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30 Charged in Federal Drug Indictments

MAY 29 (SYRACUSE, N.Y.)   –  Brian R. Crowell, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Richard S. Hartunian, the United States Attorney of the Northern District of New York and Joseph A. D'Amico, New York State Police Superintendent announces that two indictments unsealed today in United States District Court charge 18 persons with being members of two drug trafficking conspiracies operating in Utica, New York.  The Indictments allege that the groups trafficked cocaine and cocaine base (crack).  The defendants were charged with conspiring to distribute these drugs from the summer of 2011 through June 26, 2012.

The following defendants were arrested or sought today:

US v. SEAN HAGANS, et al.   5:13-CR-137
Sean Hagans, a/k/a “Pretty,” 42, of Utica, NY,
Timothy Rider, 46, of Utica, NY,
Alexis Tarris, 26, Frankfort, NY,
Scott Fyfe, 41, Utica, NY, and
Michael Lynch, 39, of Utica, NY.
           
US v. REID SOOK, et al.     5:13-CR-187
Reid Sook, a/k/a “Country,” 38, of Utica, NY,
Arthur Charles Robinson, 24, of Utica, NY,
John Robinson, a/k/a “Pooh Bear,” 38, of Utica, NY,
Cecil Jeffrey Palmer, a/k/a “Cry Baby,” 42, of Utica, NY,
Alexis Tarris, 26, Frankfort, NY,
Scott Fyfe, 41, Utica, NY,
Brandon Winn, 20, of Niagara Falls, NY,
Dennis Amsdill, 29, of Lewiston, NY,
Kimberly Springer, 31, of Utica, NY,
Raymond Schloop, 41, of Utica, NY,
Jim Caruso, 46, of Utica, NY,
Michael Rossi, a/k/a “Ross,” 50, of Utica, NY,
Sean Palmer, a/k/a “Ram,” 40, of Utica, NY,
Crawford Gary, a/k/a “Cliff,” 44, of Utica, NY, and
Michael Lynch, 39, of Utica, NY.

Today’s arrests are of those individuals who were principally involved the distribution of cocaine in the Utica area. Unique to this case, however, is that investigators were also able to identify their suppliers and associates.  This aspect of the investigation resulted in the arrest and indictment of an additional 12 persons in December 2012:

US v. FRANCISCO LINARES PEREZ, et al.  5:12-CR-577
Francisco Linares Perez, a/k/a “Jimmy,” 28, of Utica, NY,
Gustavo Perez, 31, of Utica, NY,
Natanael Perez-Martinez, a/k/a “Jose Ramos-Tapia,” 27, of Utica, NY,
Reynaldo Javier-Hernandez, a/k/a “Rey,” 34, of Utica, NY,
Tomas Cazanas, a/k/a “Cuba,” 67, of Utica, NY,
Sabhudin Palo, a/k/a “the Bosnian,” 25, of Utica, NY,
Margaret Boutell, 26, of Utica, NY,
Olvin Rivera, 30, of Utica, NY,
Harold Nelson, 42, of Utica, NY,
Pablo Goico, 29, of Utica, NY,
Jason Rodriguez, 29, of Utica, NY, and
Anthony Degristina, 33, a/k/a “the Italian,” of Utica, NY.

The indictment further alleges that Michael Lynch, a local car dealer who operates Southside Auto at 2101 Whitesboro Street, Utica allowed this property to be used as a drug distribution center, as well as laundering funds for drug dealers through the buying and selling of cars and structuring cash deposits from the dealership to avoid bank cash reporting requirements. The United States seeks the forfeiture of this property.

During the course of this investigation Court authorized wiretaps were obtained for seven telephone lines used by the Hagans and Sook organizations from May 1, 2012 to July 1, 2012. On June 26, 2012 Sook was arrested and five federal search warrants were executed in the City of Utica, resulting in the seizure of approximately $20,000 in U.S. currency, two vehicles and a large quantity of prescription pills. On July 18, 2012 two additional federal search warrants were executed in the City of Utica resulting in the seizure of 15 ounces of cocaine, approximately $7,000 and three motor vehicles as well as documents related to financial crimes.     

If convicted, each defendant charged in Count One of the respective indictments faces a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment and a maximum of a life sentence, a $10 million dollar fine, and at least five years of supervised release following any period of incarceration. Michael Lynch faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for the charges he faces, a fine of $2 million dollars and period of three years of supervised release.   

During this phase of the investigation, which took place from September through November 2012, Court authorized wiretaps and surveillance techniques were utilized and search warrants were executed in Utica, New York and Allentown, Pennsylvania. This resulted in the seizure of approximately 17 kilograms of powdered cocaine, $37,000 in cash, five vehicles, and prescription drugs.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell stated, "Southside Auto was used as a headquarters for this cocaine trafficking operation.  While the dealing, money laundering and concealment occurred at the dealership and other locations in Utica, the suppliers communicated via Facebook to move their cocaine across state and international lines.   The New York State Police/CNET initiated this investigation two years ago, resulting in the creation of a task force with DEA, IRS/CID, USMS, UPD and the OCSO and I commend their hard work. This team worked together every step of the way to dismantle this cocaine distribution and money laundering organization, a public enemy to our law abiding families and neighbors in Utica who deserve to live in a safe and drug free community." 

United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian stated, “The cooperative efforts of all the law enforcement agencies involved have resulted in the take-down of local drug wholesalers, mid-level distributors and most importantly, their suppliers. I commend the tireless efforts of every law enforcement officer in making this community a safer place to live, work and raise families.”

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, "The successful conclusion of this investigation is a direct result of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies working together.  As a result of their cooperative efforts, members of a major cocaine and money trafficking organization have been arrested and operations halted."

This prosecution resulted from a long-term investigation conducted by the DEA Syracuse Resident Office, The New York State Police-Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and other agencies, including U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI’)-Albany Office, The City of Utica Police Department, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, DEA Resident Office-Allentown, Pa., and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF),  Group T-12.  

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