US Attorney Bill Hochul says Jorge Melendez is accused of running a marijuana operations inside a warehouse at South Park and Colgate Avenues. That warehouse was owned by a company, where Melendez was a major partner.
Federal agents say there were at least 1,000 plants in the warehouse when police seized them.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa M. Marangola, who is handling the case, stated that according to the Criminal Complaint, Melendez, a Buffalo Police Officer, owns a warehouse at 2157 South Park Avenue in Buffalo. During the course of an investigation into the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, law enforcement officers installed hidden surveillance equipment on the second floor of the warehouse where a grow operation was located. According to the Complaint, Melendez and co-conspirator Elardo were observed tending to over 100 marijuana plants.
Prior to installing cameras inside the warehouse, officers monitored the outside of the building, also using surveillance cameras. According to the Complaint, Melendez was observed arriving in a Buffalo Police patrol car, while on duty, and entering and exiting the location. The defendant works in the Buffalo Police Department's "D" District, however the warehouse is located in the "A" District.
The outside surveillance cameras also observed defendant Elardo entering the warehouse on a daily basis to tend to the marijuana grow operation. In addition, officers obtained credit card information indicating that Elardo purchased equipment used to sustain an indoor, hydroponic marijuana grow operation. The equipment included a dehumidifier and filters.
"Police officers are sworn to protect the public and uphold the law," said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "It is particularly disturbing when an officer breaks the law he has sworn to uphold. This defendant chose to not only commit a crime, he did so, at times, in uniform and when he was supposed to be patrolling the streets of the city, protecting its citizens. Our Office will not only act to stop illegal narcotics trafficking, we will not tolerate public corruption of any kind."
They say Melendez and another person would sell to midlevel dealers out of a home, then it would trickle down.