A 62nd Street man was among seven suspects arrested in Western New York on federal charges early Wednesday morning for their alleged roles in a crack cocaine ring linked to two unsolved homicides.

Jacob Smouse, 34, 156 62nd St., was arrested at his residence by members of Niagara Falls police’s Emergency Response Team, acting on a federal conspiracy warrant. He and six others arrested had initial appearances before a federal judge Wednesday.

If convicted, each faces a minimum of 20 years in prison.

Detective Christopher Clark, a member of Falls police’s Narcotics Intelligence Division assigned to a Drug Enforcement Agency task force, said the Emergency Response Team was used to serve a search and arrest warrant at 62nd Street because Smouse had installed closed-circuit surveillance cameras around the perimeter of his apartment.

Nancy Cote, resident agent in charge of the DEA’s Buffalo office, described Smouse as a “smaller-level customer” of crack cocaine within the organization. But Smouse and other lesser ring members charged with conspiracy could face stiff sentences, even if they just “drove somebody in the gang to make phone calls,” she said.

“These were not the biggest drug dealers in the world, they weren’t the biggest in the city of Buffalo,” Cote said. “But these people needed to be taken down ... We weren’t going to allow them to operate through intimidation, threats and violence anymore.”

Also arrested Wednesday were Deschaun Applewhite, Anthony Drayton, Horace Lattimore, Amber Paonessa, and Chantel Watson, all of Buffalo, and Michael Zeigler of Amherst.

Cote said agents believe Applewhite and Zeigler were the heads of the “well-organized group,” linked in a federal complaint to the murders of a federal witness in a drug case and another man the group believed had stolen drugs. Cote declined to provide names of the victims.

The multi-agency investigation, led by DEA agents and Buffalo police’s homicide unit, involved both federal and state warrants for wiretaps, searches and other investigation.

The investigations and arrests were a cooperative effort between the DEA’s Buffalo office, Buffalo police’s homicide division, New York State police, federal ATF agents, the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, Niagara Falls police, the U.S. Attorney and Erie County District Attorney’s offices and the FBI.

“This is an example of how we’re working cases now, trying to get the best bang for the buck,” Cote said. “For all these agencies to work together is sort of a more unique approach, one that paid off here.”

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