State and local authorities have announced the arrest and indictment of more than 40 people who are accused of operating two different drug trafficking rings throughout Erie, Niagara and Genesee counties.
The investigation also led to the discovery of a series of bi-monthly cockfights that were held on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in Lewiston.
Details of the investigation and the arrests were made public Tuesday during a news conference in Buffalo that included New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico and numerous officials from Western New York, including Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
Officials said suspects were rounded up following parallel investigations that included undercover operations and GPS tracking devices and hundreds of hours of covert surveillance. Law enforcement officials said investigators seized more than $100,000 in cocaine along with large quantities of prescription pills and cash.
As part of a multi-agency investigation code-named Operation Lockport, state and local law enforcement agents led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) conducted an 18-month-long operation. Two indictments, charging more than 160 combined counts and 25 people, were unsealed in Erie County Supreme Court today.
The investigation led to the seizure of approximately two kilograms of cocaine and more than $60,000 in cash. Members of the narcotics distribution organization would transport the cocaine from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to the City of Niagara Falls.
Investigators believe that the suspects would pack cocaine into the soles and heels of doctored pairs of shoes while transporting it from Florida to New York and then cut up the shoes once in Buffalo to extract it. The shoes, along with box cutters, razor blades and utility knives, were found in a vehicle belonging to Vincent Mundy, of Fort Lauderdale, who was arrested this morning.
The cocaine was subsequently sold to Jermaine Cox and Lamar Johnson of Niagara County and Geraldine Horsefall of Genesee County, all of whom acted as the linchpins of the distribution network. The suspects then resold the cocaine to customers residing in Erie County and on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.
Geraldine Horsefall, who was assisted in these sales by her children, was also the focal point of a prescription pain pill distribution network. She obtained hydrocodone pills from some of her co-defendants and resold them to individuals in Genesee and Erie Counties. The Attorney General’s Office is conducting a separate investigation into how these prescription pills were originally obtained.
Several other agencies assisted in this investigation, including the New York State Police, the Niagara Falls Police Department, the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Genesee County Drug Task Force. Attorney General Schneiderman commends and thanks these agencies for their work.
In the second investigation, code-named Operation TGIF, the Attorney General’s OCTF and the New York State Police, with the assistance of the Buffalo Police Department, conducted an investigation that recovered nearly 700 grams of cocaine. The suspects in this case arranged to have the cocaine transported to Buffalo from New York City and the Boston area, where it was sold to Lucian Pitre and Juan Fermin, of Buffalo, and Franklin Lara, of the Dominican Republic. These three men, the linchpins of the distribution network, resold it to customers in Erie County. This indictment, also unsealed today in Erie County Supreme Court, charges 15 people with more than 80 counts.
During the course of Operation TGIF, investigators discovered that members of this drug network attended regular cockfights on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation. Undercover investigators observed hundreds of cockfights, including many at which the animals were killed, as well as apparatus, including spurs and razor blades that were affixed to the birds’ legs, tools used to transport or bury the animals and a board listing matchups. Bets were placed on each fight, both between the owners of the birds and between members of the assembled crowd. The owners of the property collected an admission fee from each participant, and a referee was paid per fight. Matthew Dubuc, on whose property the fights occurred, has been charged with in connection with the fighting operation.
“Today, we’re witnessing the results of different law enforcement agencies coming together and sending a message that narcotics have no place in our community," Dyster said. "I look forward to continued collaboration between the Attorney General’s Office, the State Police and the City of Niagara Falls Police Department.”
“The Niagara Falls Police Department is committed to keeping drug dealers and drug traffickers off our streets,” said Bryan DalPorto, Superintendent of the Niagara Falls Police Department. “We were proud to play a role in this investigation - which focused on a large network of illegal activities - and we’re confident that the results will have a very positive impact on our city.”
The list of suspects charged in connection with Operation Lockport is as follows:
• Geraldine Horsefall, 59, of Pembroke
• Arylyn Horsefall, 33, of Pembroke
• Dennis Kneuppel, 48, of Amherst
• Michelle King, 42, of Akron
• Lori Schwab, 33, of Corfu
• Denise Jenner, 54, of Akron
• Christy White, 38, of Akron
• Renee Dylag, 40, of Akron
• David Milks, 39, of Akron
• Gloria Shell, 70, of Buffalo
• Roy Victor, 55, of Holland
• Anthony Blackman, 32, of Elmira
• Russell Blackman, 28, of Elmira
• Jermaine Cox, 35, of Niagara Falls
• Marquita Cox, 38, of Niagara Falls
• Orie Doctor, 41, of Tonawanda Indian reservation
• William Graham, 55, of Niagara Falls
• Kevin King, 39, of Niagara Falls
• Lamar Johnson, 34, of Lewiston
• Stephanie Lombardo, 54, of Lewiston
• Vincente Mundy, 59, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
• Durval Parker, 37, of Saint Catherine, Jamaica
• Eric Parker, 38, Pembroke
• James Schmahl, 34, of Niagara Falls
• Coco Spencer, 30, Lockport
Charged in connection with Operation TGIF are:
• Jonathan Perez, a/k/a Luis Sanchez-Cruz, 37, of New York, N.Y.
• Franklin Lara, a/k/a Jose Rivera Colon, a/k/a Benny Rodriguez, 35, of the Dominican Republic
• Luciano Pitre, 36, of Buffalo
• Carmen Pitre, 45, of Buffalo
• Oscar Ruiz, 49, of Cheektowaga
• Carmen Salcedo, 37, of Lawrence, Mass.
• Angel Centeno, 47, of Buffalo
• Juan Fermin, 48, of Buffalo
• Anabel Sanchez, 42 of Buffalo
• Juan Santiago, 69, of Buffalo
• Christian Cudrado, a/k/a Christian Rodriguez, 32, of Buffalo
• Matthew Dubuc, 42, of Sanborn
• Anthony DeJames, 32, of Buffalo
• Paul Setlock, 37, of Buffalo
• Jason Woolley, 45, of Boston, N.Y.