Niagara Gazette

Courts

January 20, 2014

Sentencing in Falls drug kingpin case postponed

A federal court judge has delayed the sentencing of a Falls drug kingpin because of his continuing cooperation with prosecutors. 

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Arcara postponed the sentencing of Harry Hinks last week until mid-July. Hinks' defense team had asked for the adjournment and federal prosecutors did not oppose it.

It's the latest in a series of sentencing delays for Hinks, prompted first by a dispute over the length of his possible prison term and then by a need for his testimony in cases involving his co-defendants.

Defense attorney Herbert Greenman's filing in U.S. District Court in Buffalo indicated that prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office believe they will wrap up the remaining cases involving Hinks' drug ring in the next six months.

Hinks is expected to receive a sentence of 10 years behind bars and a fine in the range of $12,500 under the terms of a plea agreement he made with prosecutors in November 2012. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Hinks’ guilty plea to a single count of conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana and cocaine would normally expose him to a possible term of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of $8 million.

Hinks, and his partner, Dennis Berard, were accused of flooding the Falls with cocaine and pot. Local and federal drug agents said the pair imported between 20 and 30 kilos of marijuana from Canada into the Falls every two weeks.

At the same time, investigators said, they pumped multiple kilos of Mexican cartel cocaine into the city as well.

It all came to an end in April 2011, when Falls narcotics detectives and federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations took the drug ring down with a raid on Hink’s hub of operations inside the old Amato’s Bar on Ferry Avenue. That raid netted investigators 14 pounds of pot, three-and-a-half kilograms of cocaine and over $64,000 from Hinks and Berard.

A little more than two months later, local narcotics detectives and federal agents arrested six other suspects in Niagara County, a suspected cocaine supplier from Buffalo and two marijuana suppliers in the Massena area.

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