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NY AG Announces Takedown Of Major Narcotics Pipeline

Operation Wrecking Ball Marks The Sixth Bust Since AG Announced Crackdown On Violent Drug Traffickers In Suburban And Upstate NY – Taking A Total Of 265 Dealers Off The Streets
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Operation Wrecking Ball Marks The Sixth Bust Since AG Announced Crackdown On Violent Drug Traffickers In Suburban And Upstate NY – Taking A Total Of 265 Dealers Off The Streets ";

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today announced the indictment of 19 people charged with conspiring to transport large amounts of narcotics from New York City to the Capital Region, for distribution purposes.

The AG says months of wiretapping and surveillance by a coalition of law-enforcement agencies resulted in a 226-count indictment being issued against the 19.   "During the wiretaps we recorded the alleged dealers using cryptic language to describe their wares, including referring to powder cocaine as 'the Miley Cyrus.' We investigators also recovered a wide array of drugs and guns during the investigation, including more than three pounds of bulk cocaine with a street value of about $150,000."

“Operation Wrecking Ball” marks the sixth major drug bust since Attorney General Schneiderman’s announcement of a targeted crackdown on New York’s growing - and often violent - heroin, opioid, and narcotics trafficking networks.

The AG says 37 guns including long guns were seized during drug raids in Capital District along with "Large quantities of drug paraphernalia including scales and packaging material. $63,000 in cash and cutting agents that they were using to bulk up their own supply including a body building supplement known to cause kidney damage. Two of the alleged dealers, Cedric James of Brooklyn and Laquan Wright of Schenectady, are being charged as major traffickers."

If convicted, both could face life in prison.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
“Dangerous drugs and gun violence are not welcome in our communities,” said Acting Albany Police Chief Robert Sears.

Acting Albany Police Chief Robert Sears attributes the success of “Operation Wrecking Ball” to partnership among law enforcement entities.   "It's through those partnerships that we're able to keep this poison and these very dangerous weapons off our streets."

Sears also spoke on behalf of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan:   "She's very committed to keeping this stuff off the streets of Albany and understands the importance of working together in law enforcement to make sure that these things do not hit our streets."

The remaining defendants face maximum sentences between nine and 24 years in prison. They are:

Joseph Berghela, of Albany, New York

Elijahjuan Cancer, of Albany, New York

Derrick Carrington, of Albany, New York

Richard Chrise, of Albany, New York

Dennis Durham, of Albany, New York

Ladawn Harris, of Albany, New York

Clifford Jackson, of Schenectady, New York

Lewis Labshere, of Schenectady, New York

I’Quan Mayo, of Albany, New York

Deanna McCargo, of Albany, New York

Octavius Mills (Ruecker), of Schenectady, New York

Christopher Mozone, of Albany, New York

Nekie Ricks, of Albany, New York

Summer Saglimbeni, of Schenectady, New York

Traevon Shannon, of Albany, New York

Meghan Wilkinson, of Schenectady, New York

Frances Wright, of Schenectady, New York

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
The Attorney General’s investigation included hundreds of hours of physical surveillance and wiretapping, as well as the execution of numerous search warrants in Brooklyn and Schenectady.

The investigation was conducted jointly by OCTF Investigator Maria Johnson, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator William Charles, Deputy Chief Eugene Black and Albany Police Department Detectives Michael Fargione and James Wood, under the supervision of Sgt. Brian Plante and Lt. Richard Gorleski. The investigation was assisted by the New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force.

The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorneys General Michael Sharpe and Andrew McElwee. under the supervision of OCTF Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff, Upstate OCTF Deputy Chief Maria Moran, and Chief Deputy Attorney General Jason Brown.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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