United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York

06/18/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/18/2020 17:03

Nine Additional Defendants Arrested As Part Of A Long-Standing Drug Trafficking Ring; Over A Kilogram Of Deadly Fentanyl, An Illegal FIrearm, And Over $200,000 Cash Seized

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced today that nine defendants were arrested and charged in a criminal complaint for their roles in a large and long standing illegal narcotics ring operating in Western New York. Charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and distributing, 400 grams or more of fentanyl, one kilogram or more of heroin, and five kilograms or more of cocaine are:

• Jose Roman Jr.;
• Peter Pacheco;
• Xavier Gonzalez;
• Nathaniel Claudio;
• Isiah Claudio;
• Phillip Coleman;
• Angel Ortiz, a/k/a 'Peewee;'
• Hector Rivera-Torres; and
• Luis Ortiz, a/k/a Luis Ortiz-Rivera.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Everardo Rodriguez, who is handling the case, stated that according to the filed complaint, since 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Rochester Police Department, the Greece Police Department, New York State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives began investigating the illegal narcotics trafficking activities of the defendants who are responsible for the distribution of large quantities of fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine in Rochester.

On June 18, 2020, investigators executed search warrants at 12 residences in Rochester, and on one car associated with the defendants. During the execution of those search warrants, they seized over one kilogram of fentanyl, approximately $200,000 in cash, a firearm, scales, and materials used to process and package illegal narcotics for resale.

'For the second time since the pandemic began, hundreds of law enforcement officers risked their own well-being and set out early this morning to take down nine more defendants whose sole goal is to profit from the sale of deadly narcotics in the Rochester area,' stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. 'As a result of the brave investigative efforts of our law enforcement partners, the illegal activities of a total of 26 dangerous drug peddling defendants have come to an end in our community.'

DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan stated, 'A local investigation turned into one of the largest drug takedown in Rochester history. This criminal network was a major threat to the quality of life in Rochester by trafficking millions of dollars-worth of fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin into Rochester and surrounding areas. Twenty-eight members of the organization have been charged as a result of a collaborative law enforcement effort focused on saving lives by decreasing drug use, overdoses, and drug-related violence.'

On April 30, 2020, investigators executed search warrants at 24 residences in Rochester, West Henrietta, Penfield, Greece, Irondequoit, and Syracuse, and on 12 cars associated with defendants who were previously arrested. During the execution of those search warrants, they seized eight firearms; approximately 3.5 kilograms of fentanyl; and approximately two kilograms of cocaine and crack cocaine. In addition, investigators seized $928,400 in cash and over $500,000 worth of jewelry.

The nine defendants arrested and charged today brings the total number of defendants arrested in a larger investigation to 28. Eight of the defendants made initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark W. Pedersen. A ninth defendant was arrested in Puerto Rico and will appear before a magistrate judge there.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Rochester Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief La'Ron Singletary; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Eric Laughton; the Greece Police Department, under the direction of Chief Patrick Phelan; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito; the U.S. Marshal Service, under the direction of Marshal Charles Salina; the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, under the direction of Sheriff Todd Baxter; the Ontario County Sheriff's Office, under the direction of Sheriff Kevin Henderson; and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, under the direction of Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci. Additional assistance was provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Buffalo and Syracuse Resident Offices.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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