MASSENA, N.Y. -- Reminiscent of a Hollywood storyline, state and federal police in Massena announced Thursday they have taken down a major drug trafficking organization.
"In addition to spreading their poisons throughout our community, this organization was engaged in a turf war that created a culture of threats, intimidation and violence," said James Spiro, from the Department of Homeland Security.
Police say a multi-year investigation ended Thursday with the arrest of 12 individuals, who will be charged with federal drug trafficking charges. The suspected dealers, three of which live in New York City, allegedly brought drugs from downstate to Massena, where street value for the drugs is much higher.
"My staff and I recognized a couple years ago that we were dealing with a significant drug problem in this community and it was going to take something more than our usual efforts to combat that and to deal with that," said Tim Currier, Massena Police Chief.
Currier enlisted the help of state and federal officials and even expanded the investigation to include Canadian and Tribal officials.
"We look to work toward the person primarily responsible for the drug trafficking activities, the leader or organizer, and without going into too much detail, we're confident that we have done that," said Richard Hartunian, U.S. attorney.
Police say even with this significant number of drug dealers off the street, the community's problems are not over.
"There is a reason drug sales occur. We have people that live in our communities that are buying illegal drugs. We must continue to work hard to find ways to prevent our teenagers and our young adults from becoming drug users," said Currier.
Police say as a result of the drug use, violent crimes in the community have skyrocketed, something they will make a priority to stop.
If convicted, 11 of the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum of 40, along with a $5 million fine.
The defendants are scheduled to be in federal court in Plattsburgh Friday.
Those arrested include:
- Patrick "Problem" Lloyd, 25 of New York City
- Jessica Monaghan, 26 of Massena
- Codi Burke, 21 of Massena
- Michael "Don" Spencer, 25 of New York City
- Bernie Russo, 35 of Massena
- Kimberly Jandrew, 27 of Massena
- Justin Brailsford, 25 of Massena
- Jon Garcia, 22 of New York City
- Zachary Huto, 21 of Massena
- Leslie Moore, 27 of Massena
- Paul "Cash" Williams, 30 of Massena