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News Release
March 2, 2004

U.S. Charges New York Crystal Meth Dealer Ring

Mar 2 — ANTHONY PLACIDO, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division, announced today the unsealing of a seven-count Indictment in Manhattan federal court charging six defendants with participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, commonly known as "Crystal Meth." Five of the defendants are already in custody on related charges in an earlier criminal Complaint, while one is currently released on bail.

SAC Placido stated: “The Drug Enforcement Administration is committed to addressing the emerging threat of methamphetamine abuse in the New York area. We are building coalitions to address this as not only a crime problem but also as a public health issue and an environmental concern. While methamphetamine abuse, in the New York area, has not yet reach the epidemic levels seen in other parts of the country, the local impact is already significant.”

In addition, criminal Complaints were filed against two other crystal methamphetamine dealers who will be presented later today before United States Magistrate Judge FRANK MAAS.

The Indictment is a result of Operation Chelsea Connection, an ongoing investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the Indictment, from the Spring 2003 through early February 2004, the six defendants conspired to distribute quantities of crystal methamphetamine in New York City. In one instance, in January 2004, a supplier allegedly traveled from California to New York City to deliver six pounds of crystal methamphetamine to JEFFREY D. WATSON. According to the earlier Complaint, the supplier was stopped in Manhattan by DEA Agents, while carrying a bag containing six pounds of crystal methamphetamine.

According to the Indictment, that same month, an additional pound of crystal methamphetamine was possessed by WATSON and JOHN R. WARNER, a/k/a “J.W.,” in a storage locker in the basement of WATSON’s apartment building in Manhattan.

According to the Indictment, WARNER sold quantities of crystal methamphetamine from his apartment in Manhattan. According to the indictment and the Complaint, WARNER sold approximately ½ ounce of crystal methamphetamine to GREGORY G. SMITH on January 14, 2004. That day, SMITH was allegedly observed entering and exiting a number of businesses, located in the vicinity of Eighth Avenue and 19 th Street, in some cases meeting with one or more people inside the businesses, and making hand-to-hand drug transfers. According to the Indictment, an additional co-conspirator, ANGEL GARCIA, went to WATSON’s apartment on February 9, 2004, with $900 cash to purchase ½ ounce of crystal methamphetamine.

According to the Indictment, JOSEPH BURNS, a/k/a “Jay Burns,” also provided crystal methamphetamine to WARNER. In addition, the Indictment charges BURNS with distributing, and possessing with intent to distribute, gamma butyrolactone (“GBL”), a controlled substance analogue intended for human consumption.

The Indictment also charges that WATSON, WARNER and BURNS structured bank transactions in order to evade bank reporting requirements. According to the Indictment, from March 2003 through November 2003, WATSON, WARNER and BURNS regularly made up to five bank deposits in a single day, but depositing less than $10,000 in total. WATSON, WARNER and BURNS allegedly deposited a total of approximately $410,000 into bank accounts during that nine-month period. The Indictment also alleges that $65,000 was seized on February 9, 2004, from WATSON’s safety deposit box at Independence Bank.

In addition, DEA Agents today arrested GARY KISS and JAMES URINYI, on charges of distributing crystal methamphetamine and attempting to distribute crystal methamphetamine. According to the criminal Complaint, on June 25, 2003, KISS sold approximately 13 grams of crystal methamphetamine to a confidential informant for $1,400. The transaction was allegedly videotaped. KISS also allegedly provided the confidential informant with $4,200 in cash in order to finance the purchase of 56 grams of crystal methamphetamine from a source of supply in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the complaint against URINYI, he also sold 14 grams of crystal methamphetamine to a confidential informant for $1,900, from his apartment in Manhattan.

If convicted, WATSON, WARNER, BURNS, CHANDLER, SMITH, and GARCIA each face a maximum sentence of life in prison, a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a $4 million fine. In addition they would also face five to 40 years and fines ranging from $2 million to $250,000 on other charges in which they are named in the Indictment.

If convicted, KISS and URINYI each face a maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, a mandatory minimum of 5 years and a $2 million fine.

The investigation is continuing.

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