A.G. Schneiderman Announces Shutdown Of Massive Cocaine Distribution Ring
'Operation Snowbird' Leads To Arrest And Indictment Of 28; Seizure Of More Than $2.7 Million Of Cocaine & $700K In Cash
Schneiderman: We Will Root Out, Arrest & Prosecute Criminals Who Try To Tear Apart Communities With Illegal Drugs
ROCHESTER –Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrests of 28 individuals charged with conspiring in a massive drug distribution network that transported cocaine from Florida and New York City to be sold throughout Western New York. The Attorney General office’s seized more than $2.7 million worth of cocaine and $700,000 in cash, and arrested the defendants in a series of raids early this morning.
As part of a multi-agency investigation code-named “Operation Snowbird,” state and local law enforcement agents led by the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), New York State Police and the Rochester Police Department (RPD) conducted a year-long investigation that included covert surveillance, hundreds of hours of wiretaps and execution of search warrants at multiple locations.
“This massive illegal drug operation infected our neighborhoods by bringing $1 million of cocaine in Rochester each month, but now it’s shut down for good,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office, with our strong collaboration with law enforcement partners, will continue to root out, arrest, and prosecute these criminals who tear apart communities with illegal narcotics.”
According to the indictment unsealed in Monroe County Supreme Court today, an OCTF surveillance operation led investigators to the Rochester-based ring leader, Estanislao M. Martinez (a.k.a. Kiki Martinez). The investigation revealed that Mr. Martinez had numerous connections in New York City and Florida. Members of his operation transported massive amounts of drugs, from Florida and New York City to Rochester, in vehicles containing hidden compartments. Once the cocaine arrived in Rochester, it was prepared and packaged for resale throughout Western New York. The group used over half a dozen locations scattered in Monroe and Orleans counties to stash drugs, cash and weapons.
It is believed Mr. Martinez and his enterprise brought in more than $1 million of cocaine into the city of Rochester each month. Wiretap evidence included in the unsealed indictment demonstrates that the defendants discussed their drug transactions in a cryptic and coded manner to avoid detection by law enforcement.
The investigation led to the seizure of more than 34 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of $2.7 million, and more than $700,000 in cash; in addition to the narcotics and money, authorities seized five vehicles, six handguns, a 9mm high point rifle and a pistol grip shotgun.
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, "The New York State Police and the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) are well suited to pursue trafficking networks as they move across New York and between states. Task Force partnerships such as GRANET (Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team) do such great work in our communities by focusing on these groups at the local level. Recognition and thanks go to all GRANET partners, the Rochester Police Department, the Attorney General’s OCTF, New York State Parole, our federal partners in DEA, Customs and Border Patrol and Marshall Service, as well as State Police CNET (Community Narcotics Enforcement Team) with support from troopers and investigators from Troops E and A.”
The 38-count indictment charges 28 individuals with crimes including Operating as a Major Trafficker and various counts of Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (class A and B felonies), and Conspiracy to commit those crimes. The Operating as a Major Trafficker statute (§220.77(1) of the Penal Law of the State of New York), authored by Attorney General Schneiderman when he was a legislator, went into effect in November 2009, as part of reforms to the Rockefeller-era drug laws and is the only felony narcotics charge in the state that carries a possible life sentence.
The indictment is the culmination of a major investigation led by Attorney General Schneiderman’s OCTF as part of his efforts to combat large-scale narcotics trafficking and related crimes across the state. In March, Attorney General Schneiderman announced the results of "Operation Horse Trail," an investigation that led to the largest heroin bust in Buffalo history with the AG's Organized Crime Task Force arresting 15 individuals and indicting them on 51 counts. In June, he announced "Operation Pipeline" in which 37 individuals were arrested and accused of taking part in a major distribution ring that funneled cocaine from New York City, Georgia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the Capital Region.
Several agencies participated in the investigation including: the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (GRANET), the Community Narcotics Enforcement Teams (C-NET) and Special Investigations Units (SIU) of the New York State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and the National Guard.
Those charged in today’s 38-count indictment include:
YULIANA ACEVEDO, 28, Bronx, NY
ADDIEL PEREZ CARRALERO, 41, Hialeah, FL
MIGUEL A. CARRION, 26, Rochester, NY
CRISTINO CRUZ, 26, Rochester, NY
YURI GARCIA-DOMINGUEZ, 39, Hialeah, FL
JOSE GUZMAN, 44, Washington Heights, NY
JOSE HEREDIA, 38, Rochester, NY
ANGELA IRENE, 42, Albion, NY
ESTANISLAO M. (Kiki)MARTINEZ, 48, Albion, NY
SHAWN R. MARTINEZ, 26, Rochester, NY
LUIS MAS, 45, Key Largo, FLENRIQUE "RICK" MEDINA II, 20, Rochester, NY
SERGIO E. MICHEL, 35, New York, NY
MANUEL MOJENA, 52, Miramar, FL
MICHAEL A. NICOLAS-FERRER, 42, Rochester, NY
FELIX NOGUEL, 40, Miami, FL
FELIX NOGUEL-LOPEZ, 69, Miami, FL
GILBERT ORTIZ, 34, New York, NY
ANGEL ORTIZ-CORREA, 26, Rochester, NY
VICTOR PAGAN, 19, Rochester, NY
XAVIER QUINTANA, 18, Rochester, NY
MARIANNIE RIVERA, 25, Rochester, NY
MARIO R. RIVERA, 19, Rochester, NY
FELICITA E. RODRIGUEZ, 29, New York, NY
JOSE JAVIER RODRIGUEZ-SEDA, 31, Lebanon, PA
RENE ROJAS, 43, Miami, FL
SHERROD G. SANDERS, 37, Rochester, NY
THEODORE R. WESTER JR., 35, Rochester, NY
The investigation was conducted by OCTF Special Investigator John MacConaghy, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Thomas M. Wolf and Eugene Black, Rochester Police Department Investigator Philip E. Sindoni, supervised by Lt. Joseph Morabito, NYS Police Investigator Matthew Butts, supervised by Senior Investigator Paul Kelly, under the supervision of Lt. Martin McKee.
The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Senior Investigative Counsel James J. Mindell, under the supervision of OCTF Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Prosecutions Nancy Hoppock.
The charges against the defendants are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.