An alleged drug organization in the Capital Region came crashing down this week as the culmination of an 11-month joint investigation by state and local officials.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Tuesday afternoon a 226-count indictment against 31 people, including Schenectady resident Andrew Smith, who was charged as a major drug trafficker. Charges against Smith, 26, stem from an allegation that he arranged to bring more than $75,000 worth of cocaine from the Bronx to the Capital Region for distribution.
U.S. Marshals Service deputies are on the trail of Smith, who fled to Jamaica in December, according to the Attorney General’s Office. The major trafficker charge carries a potential life sentence.
Those charged with taking part in a cocaine trafficking ring that reached from New York City to the Capital Region, with their street names
• Andrew Smith (“My Boy,” “World Boss,” “Gringo”), 26, Schenectady
• Luann Bennett (“Ma”), 51, of Albany
• Sean Bennett (“S-Dot”), 28, of Albany
• Nailon Blair ("Nace"), 36, of Schenectady
• Lequanda Bozeman (“Scar”), 29, of Albany
• Shaquel Brown (“Boogie”), 29, of Albany
• Emerald Cancer (“Sis”), 31, of Albany
• Latoya Cancer (“Chops”), 33, of Albany
• Henry Crawford, 25, of Albany
• David Crowley (“Rugs,” “D-Rugs,” “Dave”), 26, of Albany
• Luisa Cuesta, 49, of Rensselaer
• Karnell Gordon (“Aff,” “Blacks”), 27, of Albany
• Derick Harris (“Boo”), 35, of Albany
• Kareem Hood (“Barrie,” “G”), 23, of East Greenbush
• Joshua Hunter, 34, of Schenectady
• Rondell Jackson (“Diggity”), 33, of Albany
• Tony Jefferson, 58, Albany
• Demetris King, 26, Albany
• Norman Lewis (“Reese”), 33, of Albany
• Sandra Matos (“Sandy,” “Candy”), 43, of Albany
• Ishmael McCarthy, (“Black,” “Mad Black,” “Ish”), 24, of Albany
• Shamel McCarthy (“Belly”), 20, of Albany
• Ameek Nixon, 27, of Albany
• Tashon Robertson, 22, of Troy
• Shakir Redmon, 31, of Albany
• Kode Sealey (“Monster”), 29 of Albany
• Leequan Thomas (“Quan”), 17, of Albany
• Walter Turner, Jr. (“Smooth”), 43 of Albany
• Shawn Ubrich, 40, of Delmar
• Errol Williams (“Brody,” “E”), 22, of Albany
• Dasean Willis (“Killa,” “Kane,” “P”), 29, of Albany
The other defendants face felony charges of criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy in the second degree in relation to the cocaine trafficking network, Schneiderman’s office said. As of Tuesday afternoon, 24 of the 31 people accused in the ring were in custody, authorities said.
“Today we have taken a significant violent criminal enterprise off our streets,” Schneiderman said.
Authorities believe the drug ring was responsible for distributing cocaine from New York City throughout Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties.
“It started with a joint Albany police force [and] attorney general’s organized crime task force investigation of a major street level cocaine deal on the streets of Arbor Hill, but through old fashioned police work and covert wiretaps we determined this was a much more dangerous enterprise than it initially appeared,” Schneiderman said.
The joint investigation included the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, the Albany Police Department, the New York State Police and Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of the National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, the U.S. Marshals Service, Rensselaer County Task Force, and Troy Police Department.
The investigation, which required investigators to listen to hundreds of hours of phone conversations, netted $200,000 worth of cocaine, more than $100,000 in cash from alleged cocaine sales and a handgun that was suspected to be intended for a murder.
Schneiderman said investigators heard of a murder plot through their wire taps and quickly determined the suspects were not boasting. “It was a detailed plan,” he said. That plan included hiding a gun in the wheel well of a car, according to the wire tap, and that is where investigators found the weapon when they acted to prevent the murder.
Albany residents Emerald Cancer, 31, and Rondell Jackson, 33, are alleged to have conspired to lure Santonieo Miller Jr. to a secluded location where he would be shot. Miller was told to go to the location to commit a robbery.
Authorities believe Cancer and Jackson had a drug related motive for the murder plot. They have both been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico applauded the work of the investigators in preventing the killing while not disrupting the investigation.
Schneiderman stressed the complexity of this drug ring, noting that one of the defendants used eight cell phones in a seven-month period. He described it as a multi-layered conspiracy.
Albany Police Chief Steve Krokoff said the drug bust was born out of a recognition that the city of Albany needed to crack down on an increase in gun violence. He said they reached out to their partners in the state and were able to successfully take down a drug network that violently protected its business.
“They use those guns indiscriminately,” Krokoff said, acknowledging a seized weapon laid out on Tuesday. “They preyed on the people in the communities in which they lived.”
Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings credited Krokoff with recognizing the scope of this investigation early on. “When this started over 11 months ago, [he] had a handle on what was coming down and said, ‘You know this is a bigger picture than we realized,’ ” Jennings said. “And that’s why all the agencies have come together.”
In 2011, the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, which was involved in this bust, was responsible for 262 arrests.