Niagara Gazette

Crime

January 29, 2014

Authorities take down cocaine trafficking, cockfighting rings in Niagara County

Authorities take down cocaine trafficking, cockfighting rings

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — For a ring of Niagara County drug dealers, it was all about the shoes.

Investigators with the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York State Police say the group trafficked cocaine from Florida to the Cataract City and moved their drugs by stashing them in the heels and soles of shoes that were shipped here by commercial carriers. 

At a Tuesday news conference in Buffalo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman showed off a pair of shoes, with the heels sliced off and a secret compartment for drugs revealed, and said the ring of dealers ran a slick operation.

“It was a well-organized gang, it was a big gang,” he said. “These are people who sold narcotics to vulnerable New Yorkers.”

And the Niagara County gang was closely tied to a Genesee County group that dealt both cocaine and prescription drugs. A third drug ring in Erie County, that had contacts with the Niagara and Genesee county gangs, stands accused of selling cocaine, prescription medications and staging illegal cockfights on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation. 

A total of 40 people were charged in three separate indictments, with more than 160 combined counts, that were unsealed late Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, 35 of the 40 suspects had been picked up. 

Schneiderman and New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said the parallel, 18-month-long investigations into the tri-county rings included undercover operations, GPS tracking and hundreds of hours of covert surveillance. 

Investigators seized more than $100,000 in cocaine, along with large quantities of prescription pills, several rifles and at least $60,000 in cash. Much of the evidence was laid out on a table next to the attorney general. 

“We took a hard shot at people who think they can flood our streets with dangerous drugs,” Schneiderman said. “Rings like these infect our neighborhoods and tear apart our communities.” 

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