106 People Indicted in North Country Opioid Trafficking Bust
June 8, 2017
As published by The Albany Times Union, on June 2, 2017.
Police have seized thousands of bags filled with opioids and arrested 106 people — including an Albany man — accused of trafficking the drugs from New Jersey to the North Country, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Friday.
The sweeping arrests represent the third major bust in Schneiderman’s statewide crackdown on violent gangs responsible for selling heroin and fentanyl in upstate New York.
Almost two dozen federal, state and local law enforcement agencies worked on the St. Lawrence County investigation, known as Operation Gravy Train. Kevin Lockenwitz of Albany is among the 106 defendants who allegedly conspired with two major drug distribution networks.
“The growing opioid epidemic is destroying lives around New York. By partnering with local law enforcement, our S.U.R.G.E. Initiative is tackling the crisis head on – making clear to those who deal death and violence in our communities that it will not be tolerated,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
Police conducted an 11-month investigation that included surveillance and hundreds of hours of wiretaps, aimed at rooting out heroin, fentanyl and cocaine dealers operating in the St. Lawrence County area.
The investigation recovered about 2,600 bags of heroin with a street value of roughly $39,000, 3,005 bags of fentanyl with a street value of roughly $45,075, and more than 700 bags of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $10,500. All of it had which had been pre-packaged for easy distribution by the trafficking ring, authorities say.
Investigators also seized drugs in bulk, including more than a kilo of cocaine, more than a quarter-pound of fentanyl, and more than three ounces of heroin. Also recovered: about $89,000 in cash, three handguns, two stun guns, a dagger, a shotgun and a bulletproof vest stolen from a Tompkins County sheriff’s deputy.
“These individuals were trafficking drugs across the North Country, with connections across Central New York and the New York City area,” said State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II. “These arrests should send a message that this type of criminal activity will not be tolerated in our communities. We will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to track down offenders, shut down their operations, and make our streets safer for those we serve.”
Indictments were unsealed Friday in St. Lawrence County Court in Canton.
The first indictment comprised 50 defendants who were accused of selling drugs in Ogdensburg. The second indictment comprised 57 defendants, one of whom also appears on the first indictment, who were accused of trafficking drugs to northern New York.
Together, the indictments detail various felony charges of criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance, and conspiracy to commit those crimes