A multi-year narcotics investigation involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies was concluded on April 30 when investigators executed 24 search warrants and took 17 individuals into custody according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York. Federal prosecutors say the suspects were part of a drug gang that distributed significant quantities of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine in the Rochester area and elsewhere.

During the investigation, police determined that a 35-year-old Rochester man was the group’s ringleader. Investigators gathered evidence by keeping the man and his associates under surveillance and placing wiretaps on phones used by the group. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the New York State Police, the Greece and Rochester Police Departments and the Monroe and Ontario County Sheriff’s Offices.

The 24 search warrants were executed at residences in Rochester, Syracuse, West Henrietta, Greece, Penfield and Irondequoit. A dozen vehicles used by the suspects were also searched. These searches allegedly led to the seizure of more than $900,000 in cash, eight firearms, over 3 kilograms of fentanyl and approximately 2 kilograms of crack and powder cocaine. The suspects have been charged with drug possession and drug possession with the intent to distribute.

Prosecutors often make generous plea offers to individuals taken into custody during operations like this if they are willing to provide information about critical suspects. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may recommend accepting such an offer if the evidence gathered by police is overwhelming and the chances of acquittal on drug charges are slim. However, attorneys could suggest rejecting plea offers when police may have conducted searches that violate constitutional protections or the evidence they collected is unlikely to convince a jury.

Source: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York, “17 Defendants Arrested As Long Standing Drug Trafficking Ring Is Dismantled: Multiple Kilograms Of Deadly Fentanyl, Other Drugs, Illegal Guns, And Nearly 1-Million Cash Seized”, Press release, May 5, 2020