The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York announced on May 5 that a narcotics investigation involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies has led to the arrest of 17 individuals and the seizure of significant quantities of fentanyl, crack cocaine, powder cocaine and cash. The individuals taken into custody have been charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances. Agencies taking part in the investigation include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the U.S. Marshal Service, the New York State Police, the Rochester and Greece Police Departments and the Monroe and Ontario County Sheriff’s Offices.
Federal investigators gather evidence
The investigation, which began in 2016, focused on a 35-year-old man whom federal agents suspected of controlling a criminal enterprise that distributed drugs throughout the Rochester area. Agents built their case methodically by keeping the man under surveillance and placing wiretaps on phones allegedly used to organize the acquisition and distribution of controlled substances. This evidence was enough to convince a federal judge to grant warrants to search 24 homes in Rochester, Penfield, Irondequoit, West Henrietta, Greece, and Syracuse.
Drugs, guns and cash seized
Federal agents, police officers and sheriff’s deputies executed the search warrants on April 30. In addition to the residences listed on the search warrants, law enforcement searched 12 motor vehicles linked to the suspects. According to U.S. attorneys, these searches resulted in the seizure of eight guns, more than 3 pounds of fentanyl, about 2 kilograms of powder and crack cocaine and $928,400 in U.S. currency.
The right to remain silent
Prosecutors are often most interested in a few key defendants when a large number of suspects are taken into custody during a drug sweep. They could be willing to make generous plea offers to individuals who are willing to cooperate and help them build their cases. If you are arrested during such an operation, an experienced criminal defense attorney may advise you to remain silent when questioned, even if the evidence against you seems overwhelming. This is because prosecutors are unlikely to reduce drug charges or offer sentencing concessions in return for the information they already have.