They used code names pulled from pop-culture lexicon to obscure the drugs they discussed in phone conversations. “Christina Aguilera” meant powder cocaine. “Britney” — a reference to pop singer Britney Spears — meant crack cocaine.
These names were captured on wiretaps authorities used to break up a large, multi-jurisdictional drug ring that was dealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal substances throughout the Capital Region. In total, the 10-month investigation spearheaded by the state Attorney General’s Office led to a 340-count indictment charging two dozen Capital Region residents and a New York City man with drug trafficking.
“This investigation has shut down a major drug network allegedly responsible for the sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal drugs in our neighborhoods, and we will continue to put drug traffickers and kingpins behind bars, where they belong,” state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement Tuesday.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Yardwork, targeted a ring that shuttled heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, morphine and illegal prescription medications — including hydrocodone and Xanax — between New York City and the Capital Region. Conversations captured during the investigation revealed an extensive use of code words between the suspects when they communicated about drugs and related activity, according to investigators.
Investigators said some of those arrested conducted drug transactions in the presence of children. Police found one suspect’s young daughters in a house they described as being full of cocaine in plain view.
One man, 36-year-old Christopher Massey of Albany, was charged with operating as a major trafficker. If convicted, he could face life in prison. Others were charged with a range of felonies, including criminal sale or possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy.
State and local law enforcement agencies led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the Albany Police Department conducted an investigation that extended from New York City through nine upstate counties.
Also arrested were: David Alpy, 20, of Mechanicville; John Carl, 44, of Waterford; Gina Carpenter, 35, of Waterford; John Darkins, 37, of, Albany; Christine Gillard, 50, of Troy; Roger Hanna, 44, of Waterford; Rocksheen Lewis, 37, of Troy; Charles Liggins, 34, of Albany; Deanna Mccargo, 28, of Albany; William Middleton, 26, of Schenectady; Timothy Moore, 43, of Amsterdam; Javon Moshier, 18, of Albany; Cory Pinkney, 37, of New York City; Shavisa Pointer, 29, of Albany; Hassan Richardson, 27, of Troy; Lavar Richardson, 33, of Troy; Sarah Romano, 32, of Watervliet; Daniel Smith, 29, of Mechanicville; Valerie Stubbs, 43, of Albany; Rayshawn Tibbs, 35, of Albany; Jeffrey Turner, 43, of Albany; Phyllis Walker, 52, of Troy; Medina White, 37, of Albany; and Ricky Wilson, 27, of Albany.