Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

52 People, Some Gang Members, Charged in Central NY Drug Trafficking Bust, AG Says

April 28, 2017

As published by The Syracuse-Post Standard on April 27, 2017.

More than 50 people have been charged in a wide-reaching drug crack down, facing charges ranging from conspiracy to murder to selling drugs, officials announced Thursday.

In two separate indictments, the 52 people are facing charges for about 370 crimes, including operating as a major trafficker, various counts of criminal drug sale and possession, and conspiracy charges, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman announced the results of the 12-month investigation, called Operation Bricktown, at a news conference Thursday in Syracuse.

About 30 people charged are believed to belong to Syracuse’s Bricktown Gang, a group that’s operated in Syracuse for more than 10 years, Schneiderman said.

Five alleged Bricktown members are facing conspiracy to commit murder charges, according to the attorney general’s office.

Police surveillance shows they planned to kill rival gang members in Syracuse, with one declaring “it’s war time,” officials said.

Four others, allegedly from a different gang, are also facing conspiracy to commit murder charges for planned hits on rivals, offices said. The state said the accused at one point threw loaded guns out of a window while pursued by police.

The defendants were arrested Wednesday and Thursday morning in a series of raids across Syracuse and Cortland, Madison, Monroe and Oswego counties, according to the attorney general’s office. Two were found out of state, in Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

Family members of the accused and others jammed a court room for arraignments at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the Onondaga County courthouse. Dozens remained in the hallway after the 50-seat courtroom filled to capacity.

The drug sales operation extended across Central New York, with heroin and cocaine being transported throughout Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, and St. Lawrence counties, Schneiderman’s office states.

Through the investigation, authorities seized:

  • Over 2 kilograms of cocaine
  • 1,128 envelopes of heroin and more than 20 grams of loose heroin
  • Ecstasy pills and psychedelic mushrooms
  • a 9-mm Lorcin handgun, loaded, with a destroyed serial number
  • a .40-caliber Glock handgun, loaded with a 30-roun magazine
  • a 9-mm Sig Sauer handgun, loaded with a 15-round magazine
  • a .45-caliber Taurus handgun, loaded
  • a 12-gauge shotgun
  • Drug paraphernalia (including scales, packaging, cutting agents)
  • $3,657

One of the guns — the 9-mm Lorcin — was used in about 13 different shots-fired incidents in Syracuse from 2015 to 2016, officials said. This was determined by ballistics testing.

Along with last year’s Operation Smackdown, which led to the arrest of 72 people across Central New York for drug trafficking, Schneiderman estimate they’ve gotten more than 120 drug dealers off the streets.

“These are the kinds of cases that make a difference in people’s lives,” Schneiderman said.

He said Operation Bricktown is the first campaign in his Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic initiative, a new effort to target gangs an people who deal heroin and commit violence across New York state.

The attorney general’s Organized Crime Task Force was assisted by the Syracuse Police Department, State Police, the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office, the Onondaga County Probation Department, the State Division of Parole, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the State National Guard Counter Drug Task Force.