The drugs, guns, and money recovered in the arrests that followed the federal indictment of those allegedly involved in a drug trafficking scheme in Western New York. It was part of news conference held at the office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Friday, Jan. 18. 2013.
Several indicted in drug trafficking network
Buffalo (WBEN) -- The U.S Attorney's Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Friday said several people are facing charges for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking organization impacting Western New York.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment accusing several people of being involved in these drug sales, said U.S. Attorney William Hochul, Jr.
The indictment accuses Steven Bennett, 42; Chandra Woods, 29, of Los Angeles. Calif.; Jessica Lopez, 32, of Buffalo; Phillip Keomongkoun, 26 of Buffalo; Malcolm Ball, 21, of Jamestown; Nikki Lillard, 49, of Buffalo, and Guy Burt (no location provided) with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.
At the same time, the indictment also accuses Bennett and Lopez of money laundering conspiracy.
According to the indictment, Steven Bennett was a supplier of methamphetamine and cocaine between last July and this January, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Violanti said in a news release. Violanti is handling the case.
"He's established a network of associates that stretched from Buffalo. It was centered in Buffalo all the way down south to the city of Jamestown," said Dale Kasprzyk, with the DEA.
The defendant shipped the drugs from California to Buffalo for distribution by his co-defendants, the indictment alleges. Bennett made numerous trips to Buffalo to coordinate the shipments and further distribute the drugs, the indictment also alleges.
"This investigation focused on a narcotic which is only beginning to be seen in our area and involved and organization that was seeking to create a market for this dangerous drug," Hochul said in the news release. "The fact that law enforcement was able to conclude this highly successful investigation in such a short period of time is to be commended."
The organization was attempting to establish a customer base for Mexican methamphetamine and cocaine in the Western New York area, DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Crowell said in the same news release.
"Any organization attempting to traffic meth is one of the top priorities for our task force," Crowell said.
Investigators identified the source of this "extremely high purity methamphetamine being distributed throughout Buffalo's neighborhoods, traced it back to Steven Bennett and his co-conspirators, and has them facing justice, Crowell said.
Like any illegal drug, methamphetamine has the potential to cause overdoses and death to make of its users, while also increasing violence, theft, and crime associated with drug trafficking, Crowell added.
This drug trafficking organization has been obliterated, said Kasprzyk.
"There is no member of it left here in Buffalo. Everyone has been arrested. All of the high-level members of this group has been arrested," Kasprzyk said during the Friday afternoon news conference.