NY AG announces major drug bust; $2M in drugs, weapons seized

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday the indictment of 78 people charged with 355 crimes for their connections to two major drug distribution networks based in Central New York, with ties to New York City and Westchester County.

Four indictments were unsealed in court on Wednesday, detailing the network of cocaine distribution and copious amounts of paraphernalia including drugs and firearms. James said much of the recovered supply was laced with fentanyl or heroin, posing a danger to the community.

The two-year multi-agency investigation, dubbed “Operation Raw Materials”, led to the seizure of the following:

  • 32 kilograms of cocaine
  • 117 grams of heroin mixed with fentanyl 
  • Over $490,000
  • 15 firearms, including nine “ghost guns”

The seizures are estimated to have a street value of over $2 million. 

“Cracking down on illegal drug trafficking has been a priority for our office since day one. As Syracuse continues to experience record high levels of violence, today, we make good on our commitment to protecting our communities by taking these dangerous drugs and guns off our streets. We will ensure that those responsible for endangering our communities are held accountable, I thank our law enforcement partners for their support in seeing this through.”

New york Attroney General Letitia James

The takedown was the result of an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, and the Oneida/Madison County Drug Task Force. Several law enforcement agencies, many based upstate, were involved in the takedown.

The investigation involved covert physical surveillance, thousands of hours of electronic surveillance and multiple search warrants. 

One of the accused individuals, Robert Hammond, 62, is from the Bronx; another, David Fermin, 49, is from Westchester County, according to the AG’s office.

One of the indictments released Wednesday focused on the the activity of the “Flores Group” — led by Hector Flores, a/k/a “Pito” — and charged 50 individuals with 226 counts for their roles in selling narcotics in Onondaga, Oswego, Oneida, Cortland, Westchester, New York, and Bronx counties, James’ office said. 

Another indictment was comprised of two defendants: Robert Miguel Lopez and Michael Elias Ventura-Montano. Lopez, of Florida, officials said, orchestrated the delivery of cocaine from Florida to New York City, with Ventura-Montano on the receiving end.

Ventura-Montano then allegedly drove the drugs from New York City to Syracuse, where he was intercepted by investigators.

Three kilograms of cocaine and $31,000 in cash were recovered by investigators from a custom trap door in the center console of the car Ventura-Montano was driving, officials said.

“The dedication of law enforcement has resulted in the take down of not one, but two cocaine distribution rings supplying deadly drugs into Central New York,” said New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen. “I applaud the Office of the Attorney General and our other partners for their tireless efforts to target and eliminate these operations. This investigation and disruption of both these drug rings sends a clear message that we have zero tolerance for those who sell deadly, illegal drugs in our communities. We remain committed to working side-by-side with our partners to make our streets safer.” 

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