SCHENECTADY -- More than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with a large Schenectady-based cocaine trafficking ring that brought drugs from New York City to the Capital Region, the state Attorney General's Office said Wednesday.
The arrests include nine people with Schenectady addresses, including the accused ring leader and his girlfriend, who prosecutors said was found driving drugs to Schenectady in a car with her 12-year-old son inside.
The 14 face charges ranging from sale and possession of a controlled substance to conspiracy.
The investigation took nine months and was led by the Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force. The probe revealed that Jevon "Dirt" Henry, 36, purchased cocaine in bulk from New York City and had his girlfriend, Aisha Murray, 32, of Schenectady, bring the drugs to Schenectady, according to the AG's office. She was stopped by investigators in December in Schenectady County while transporting a kilogram of cocaine, officials said.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Dirty Deeds, was part of the attorney general's ongoing crackdown on drug distribution networks, called SURGE. It was the ninth such takedown from the effort statewide.
"As we allege, this trafficking ring flooded the Capital Region with cocaine – fueling the cycle of addiction that has been ravaging communities across New York," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a press release. "Through our continued collaboration with our partners in law enforcement, our SURGE Initiative is working to cut off the supply of drugs into our communities and drive traffickers out of business."
Others indicted were: Quinton Adams, 47, and Quentin Bellinger, 58, both of the Bronx; Paul Greaves, 35, and Jermaine White, 29, both of Albany; James Johnson, 55, of Latham; and Schenectady residents Laquan Hart, 32, Julio Lewis, 27, Hardley Pierre, 28, Raydell Robinson, 37, Duvon Royall, 43, Lamar Ventura, 38 and Stacey Watson, 45.
Henry, Adams and Bellinger each face a top count of operating as a major drug trafficker, according to the indictment. Penalties for all those involved, if convicted, range from three years to life in prison.
The indictment includes allegations of drug sales in Schenectady County, Albany County, Bronx County and elsewhere. It also includes allegations of drug transportation and money transportation as part of the conspiracy. Members of the ring would speak by phone in cryptic conversations, according to the 84-count indictment.
State and Saratoga Springs police also took part in the investigation and had assistance from the Schenectady County Sheriff's Department, New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service.
The operation did not involve the Schenectady Police Department. Police Chief Eric Clifford said his department was offered a role in helping with the arrests, but he declined as his department's help didn't appear needed and assistance with overtime pay wasn't offered. The Sheriff's Department took part in the arrests, but not the investigation, Sheriff Dominic Dagostino said.
Clifford added that the first his department heard of the operation was last week, when the department was called for assistance with arrests. Clifford said he has since spoken with an attorney general representative about keeping his department more informed in the future.