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'Operation Wrecking Ball' ringleader pleads guilty

'Operation Wrecking Ball' ringleader pleads guilty

Arrests netted more than 3 pounds of cocaine, as well as cash, paraphernalia
'Operation Wrecking Ball' ringleader pleads guilty
Photographer: Shutterstock

SCHENECTADY — The ringleader of a drug trafficking network that distributed cocaine throughout Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties pleaded guilty Tuesday and faces up to 12 years in prison when he is sentenced.

Cedric James of Brooklyn was arrested as part of "Operation Wrecking Ball,” which charged 19 individuals with 226 crimes; to date, 16 defendants have entered guilty pleas, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office.

James pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, according to a prepared statement.

The investigation — dubbed “Operation Wrecking Ball” because several conspirators referred to cocaine as the “Miley Cyrus” over wiretaps — included hundreds of hours of physical surveillance and wiretapping, as well as the execution of numerous search warrants in Brooklyn and Schenectady in February, according to Schneiderman's office. 

The search warrants resulted in the seizure of more than 3 pounds of bulk cocaine with an approximate street value of $147,000, 35 firearms, more than $63,000 in cash and large quantities of drug paraphernalia, including scales, packaging and cutting agents, the AG's office said.

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