Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

State, local police take down Albany drug ring

August 2, 2016

As published in the Times Union on July 15, 2016.

Top state law enforcement officials, including Albany police, announced the indictment Thursday of 27 members of two drug distribution rings operating throughout New York and neighboring states, and the Capital Region.

“Operation Uptown Red Alert” resulted in the seizure of more than two pounds of bulk heroin that could be packaged into 50,000 bags with a street value of $500,000, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose Organized Crime Task Force ran the operation along with State Police and the Albany Police Department.

Also seized were more than a pound of cocaine, 1,067 Oxycodone pills, seven MDMA pills, two shotguns, a handgun and more than $21,000 in cash along with a homemade heroin kilogram press — a compressor that can form heroin into easy-to-move bricks.

The arrests followed a yearlong investigation, according to Schneiderman’s office.

“Operation Uptown Red Alert strikes a blow in the fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic that continues to plague New York state, as well as the country,” Schneiderman said in a prepared statement. “My office and our partners in law enforcement will continue to use all of the tools and resources at our disposal to fight this.”

Authorities filed two separate indictments against the 27 suspects including three who are charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, which could carry a mandatory life sentence upon conviction.

Those top suspects are Diomedes Silfa, of the Bronx and Noemi Maldonado and Juan Ramos, both of Brooklyn, according to Schneiderman’s office.

They face mandatory life sentences for allegedly arranging for heroin and cocaine to be moved from New York City to the Capital Region.

The alleged trafficking was conducted through two drug rings, authorities said.

The first, codenamed “Uptown” comprised at least six people and focused on cocaine distribution, officials said.

The second, known as “Red Alert” would allegedly send heroin, cocaine and illegal prescription medication from New York City to Albany and then distribute it in and around the Capital Region and the Catskills as well as Maine and Pennsylvania.

One defendant, Korey Holloway, allegedly managed some of the drug trafficking from a prison in Pennsylvania where he reportedly used three-way phone calls from prison to discuss deals with Ramos, authorities said.

Holloway and the rest of the defendants face maximum sentences between 9 and 24 years in prison, depending on their individual criminal history, according to Schneiderman’s office.

“Operation Uptown Red Alert continued the efforts that law enforcement has been taking to combat the heroin issues facing our communities,” added Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox.

The following Capital Region residents were indicted: From Albany — Clifford Chesky, Carla Davis, Charles Hall, Eric Hines, Isaiah Johnson, Adrian Mattei, Michael Miller, Marlon Nesbeth, Lachone Rozier, Joseph Russo, Aliem Shabazz, Neylon Wagner; Scott Cross, of Freehold; Symphony Davis and Joseph Rozier, both of Rensselaer; Christopher Demasi, of Cobleskill; Elijah Johnson, of Troy; and Lowell McGill, of Schenectady.

Other arrested were: Amber Best, of Allentown, Pa.; Pedro Pablo Ramirez, of the Bronx; Jennifer Sablan, of Brooklyn; Manuel Soto, of Cornwallville; and Martin Wright, of Palermo, Maine.