CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Hector Cordero, 32, and Damien Cruz, 23, both of Buffalo, NY, with possessing with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, maintaining a drug involved premises, and possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking offenses. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of life.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles E. Watkins, Jr., who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment and a previously filed complaint, on September 16, 2020, investigators conducted a traffic stop of defendant Cordero’s vehicle and detained him pending the completion of a search warrant at his residence on Roanoke Parkway in Buffalo. Members of the FBI Buffalo Safe Streets Task Force and Lackawanna Police Department executed the search warrant and recovered over $30,000 in cash, a money counter, digital scales, large plastic bags containing white residue, and approximately a half pound of suspected marijuana. In addition, investigators located two mechanical presses, commonly used to shape cocaine into bricks, a safe containing approximately 60 ounces (approximately 1700 grams) of a white powdery substance, a handgun loaded with five rounds of ammunition, and four additional boxes of ammunition in a shed on the property. They also found a safe inside the shed.
Members of the FBI Buffalo Safe Streets Task Force, the Buffalo Police Department and the Lackawanna Police Department also executed a search warrant at 1042 Grant Street in Buffalo. During that search law enforcement officers located plastic bags containing suspected marijuana, other plastic bags containing a white powdery substance, and a mechanical press, similar to the devices located at the Roanoke Parkway residence. Investigators also located a second safe, which contained plastic bags with suspected marijuana and a white powdery substance, a digital scale and packaging with white residue, and the lower receiver of a handgun.
During the execution of the search warrant at 1042 Grant Street, investigators encountered defendant Cruz on the second floor, coming from the stairs that led to an attic. They observed that Cruz had dirt on his hands, feet, and one knee, and no shoes on his feet. Officers subsequently searched the attic and observed foot prints on the floor that lead to a small hole in the floor boards. Inside the hole was a handgun, with an extended magazine containing at least 16 rounds of ammunition. Small plastic bags containing a white powdery substance were also recovered.
The defendants were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. and detained.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the Lackawanna Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mark Packard; and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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