Seven people from Schenectady County and one from Montgomery County were among 47 people indicted Thursday in a large-scale drug and gun trafficking investigation in the Capital Region, the state Attorney General’s Office said.
The year-long investigation, dubbed “Operation Crosstown Quarantine” centered around two rival gangs in Albany–Uptown Associates and Downtown Associates, according to a press release. The investigations comes as Albany County has seen a surge in gun violence.
“For the past year, Albany and the surrounding areas have been plagued by violent crime that has terrorized our communities and claimed too many lives,” said Attorney General Letita James in a press release. “These individuals have allegedly flooded our streets with dangerous narcotics and are responsible for many of the shootings that have been at the center of this devastation. Today’s takedown is yet another major action to combat violent crime and hold accountable those who seek to endanger our communities.”
Officers involved in the operation seized nearly 1.2 kilograms of cocaine, 140 grams of heroin mixed with Fentanyl, oxycodone, $40,000 and nine guns. One of the guns is a “ghost gun.”
Schenectady City Police Chief Eric Clifford commended the effort by James and other agencies to get drugs and guns off the street.
“I always say where there’s drugs there’s guns,” he said.
He said over the last year there has been a slight increase in confirmed shots fired even during a the pandemic when one might expect it to go down since people were out less. He said in most instances shootings in the city of Schenectady end up having unintended victims, which is why it’s important to work collectively to arrest the people with the drugs and the guns.
In the joint operation between the Office of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, the Albany Police Department and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force used undercover operations and physical and electronic surveillance to garner evidence.
“During the course of the investigation, in addition to communication by cell phones, the defendants repeatedly relied on social media, specifically Facebook and Snapchat, to sell and procure drugs and brazenly brag and display illegal firearms,” the release states.
The operation resulted in five separate indictments. Indictment one contains 521 counts and charges 33 people with their involvement in a drug trafficking ring. The first conspiracy in indictment one pertains to the “Upstate Associates” gang and its leader Jamar “Un” Brayboy, 43, of Albany. The investigation alleges Brayboy had a vast network of sellers and reseller customers that would bring up cocaine and heroin from New York City to sell in the Capital Region, as well as New York and Orange counties and Vermont.
The second part of the indictment relates to “Downtown Associates” and its leader Tyshawn “Mac” Morris, 29 of Schenectady. Morris was indicted on charges related to operating a large drug trafficking network that spanned Albany, Fulton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties. He faces a charge of operating as a major trafficker, which carries a life sentence. Other charges include the felonies of criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy.
Five other Schenectady County residents indicted on the same charges are:
- Darrell Anderson, 29
- Ronald Berg, 39
- Dontray Lunday, 41
- Luis “LV” Navarro, 34
- Marcus Villano, 50
Rizel Sims, 31, of Montgomery is also indicted on these charges.
Indictments two, three, four and five includes 196 counts against 14 people with charges related to trafficking illegal prescription drugs and the possession of firearms.
During the investigation police determined the “Downtown Associates” gang was using Snapchat to sell illegal drugs, mainly Oxycodone, posting pictures of the pill bottles and dosing amounts, according to the press release. Other members of the gang, known as “50 Gang” were seen showcasing guns, including rifles, handguns and high-capacity machine guns on social media.
“Members of the “50 Gang” range from 18-years-old to 25-years-old and they are considered by law enforcement to be responsible for numerous drive-by shootings and homicides that have been plaguing the city of Albany over the past year, including the recent fatal shooting of an 18-year-old in downtown Albany,” states the release.
The charges in the remaining indictments include the felonies of enterprise corruption, criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a weapon.
Neylon “Loto” Wagner, 19, of Schenectady County has been charged in those indictments.
“My message to the violent criminals continues to be clear” If you possess an illegal gun in Albany, we will do everything in our power–including partnering with federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to find you, arrest you and put you in jail for a very long time,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan in the press release.