Takedown Completes Arrests of 15 Alleged Drug Traffickers in Syracuse Area | USAO-NDNY

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Five men arrested in Syracuse yesterday are alleged to be members of a conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and heroin operating between Puerto Rico, New York City, and Syracuse, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon, Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Field Division, and Chief Kenton Buckner, City of Syracuse Police Department.  Yesterday’s takedown follows a series of previous arrests by the multi-agency investigation that now includes 15 defendants.

The five men arrested yesterday appeared today in court on federal criminal complaints alleging a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, which operated from May 2020 to September 16, 2020.  Thirteen of the defendants are residents of Onondaga County, one defendant is a resident of the Bronx, New York, and one defendant is a resident of Puerto Rico.

As part of this investigation, law enforcement seized approximately 4.5 kilograms of cocaine, 1,140 bags of heroin (approximately 44 grams), $75,000, a ghost gun, and three handguns – a  Taurus PT 809 9mm handgun, a Ruger revolver, a Highpoint .40 caliber, and the lower part of a Glock pistol.

“These arrests confirm that even during this unprecedented global pandemic, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are working together to protect our communities from drug trafficking.  Our commitment will never waver,” said Antoinette T. Bacon, Acting United States Attorney.

“A major drug pipeline from Puerto Rico to Syracuse has been dismantled as a result of this homegrown investigation,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “Not only did we identify this drug network’s operations, we targeted the local dealers, taking guns and drugs off the streets of Syracuse. I applaud our law enforcement partners for their hard work and determination in keeping our cities safe.”

“The Syracuse Police Department is pleased to report a major drug operation has been removed from our city.  We accomplished the mission by coordination with our federal partners at the US Attorney’s Office and the DEA.  We will continue these collaborations in our efforts to pursue individuals responsible for drug trafficking and gang violence in our city.  It is our sincere hope this progress will improve the quality of life in some of our challenged communities,” said Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner.

The charges resulting from the arrests are summarized below.

June/July Arrests

In June and July 2020, DEA and Syracuse Police arrested three (3) defendants alleged in federal criminal complaints to be members of a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute heroin and cocaine.

On June 24, 2020, Jikeya McBride, 31, of Syracuse, NY was arrested and charged with distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin. If convicted, McBride faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000 and a term of supervised release of at least three years and up to life.

On June 24, 2020, Aaron Acevedo, 27, of Syracuse, NY was arrested and charged with distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, following the execution of a federal search warrant at his Syracuse, New York residence. If convicted, Acevedo faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000 and a term of supervised release of at least three years and up to life.   

On July 13, 2020, Claudio Acevedo-Maquita, 55, of the Bronx, NY was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin following a traffic stop where forty-four (44) “bricks” of heroin (each “brick” consists of 50 individual bags of heroin) were seized in the vehicle. Acevedo-Maquita was allegedly travelling from New York City to Syracuse, New York, to deliver the heroin to co-conspirator Samuel Matos.  If convicted, Acevedo-Maquita faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000 and a term of supervised release of at least three years and up to life.

August 19, 2020 Arrests

On August 19, 2020, the following defendants were arrested and charged in federal criminal complaints alleging conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine: 

            Luis Mendez, 37, Syracuse, NY

            Samuel Matos, 27, Syracuse, NY

            Hector Santiago, 31, Syracuse, NY

            Helbert Calo-Birriel, 31, Syracuse, NY

            John Resto, 25, Syracuse, NY

            Luis Resto, 25, Syracuse, NY

            Jose Medina, 34, Syracuse, NY

If convicted, these defendants face between 5 years and life in prison, a fine of up to $5,000,000, and a term of supervised release of at least four years and up to life.

September 16, 2020 Arrests

On September 16, 2020, the following defendants were arrested and charged in federal criminal complaints alleging conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine:

            Omar Fuentes, 24, Syracuse, NY

            Jobany Tirado, 37, Syracuse, NY 

            Rahfet Shehadeh, 27, Syracuse, NY

            Angel Negron-Collazo, 24, Syracuse, NY

If convicted, these defendants face between 10 years and life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000,000, and a supervised release term of at least 5 years and up to life.

Omar Fuentes is also alleged to have possessed a pistol in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime at the time of his arrest.  If convicted of this count, Fuentes faces a mandatory consecutive term of 5 years in prison for the firearm count.

On September 16, 2020, Joel Franco-Ortiz, 34, of Puerto Rico, was arrested during a traffic stop and charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000 and terms of supervised release of at least three years and up to life for the drug-related counts, and a mandatory consecutive term of 5 years in prison for the firearm count.

A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

The charges in the criminal complaints are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Syracuse Police Department, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Investigators from the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the New York State Police, and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sahar L. Amandolare.

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