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Leader of Heroin Crew and 12 Members Arrested in a Two Day Enforcement Operation

AUG 28 (SYRACUSE, N.Y.)  - The leader of a major heroin distribution network and twelve associates based in Syracuse, NY have been arrested as part of a three month investigation.  Reinaldo Santos was arrested yesterday, August 26th after a two day enforcement operation spearheaded by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force Initiative, which consists of members of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Syracuse Police Department, United States Border Patrol, Homeland Security, New York State Police, and the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office. 

Heroin bundles found in the Santos vehicle Heroin bundles found in the Santos vehicle

Heroin bundles found in the Santos vehicle

The arrests were announced this morning by Drug Enforcement Administration, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division Brian R. Crowell and Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin E. Walsh.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell stated, “There has been a 106% increase in the number of people dependent on heroin within the last year, and our primary focus is to bring justice to those responsible for distributing this poison.  This organization epitomizes the flow of heroin from New York City suppliers to drug gangs throughout the Northeast sending heroin in individually packaged bundles for a quick sale throughout our communities.  The DEA and our law enforcement partners will never tolerate the consequences of heroin distribution and use-addiction, increased crime, violence, health care costs, and overdose deaths. I commend the men and woman from the NYSP, Syracuse Police Department, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, and the DEA Task Force who worked tirelessly to make our communities safer from these heroin traffickers.” 

Over a two day period, starting August 25, DEA Syracuse Resident Office along with New York State Police, Syracuse Police Department and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office learned that Reinaldo Santos, the target of a heroin distribution network based in Syracuse, was returning from New York City with heroin destined for distribution throughout Syracuse.  Surveillance was established along the New York State Thruway and task force members located Santos driving a silver 2009 Honda Accord northbound.  Onondaga County Sheriff’s Investigators executed a car stop which led to the arrest of Santos and Noemi Torres, who was in the passenger seat.  After executing a state warrant, officers located an elaborate concealed compartment containing approximately 18,000 individual heroin bundles in white dime bags concealed below the center console inside a mechanical trap in the vehicle. 

Santos vehicle with trap

Santos vehicle with trap

Subsequent to Santos ‘arrest, four additional search warrants were executed in the City of Syracuse and the Town of Clay that resulted in the recovery of $10,000 in cash and 3 illegal handguns.  In all, 14 defendants were arrested for felony gun and drug charges and are currently incarcerated at the Justice Center.  The heroin recovered in this operation had an average street value of approximately $280,000.   The search warrants were executed at 207 Glenwood Ave, Syracuse, NY; 511 Stolp Ave, Syracuse, NY; 124 N. Monticello, Syracuse, NY; 7426 Henry Clay Blvd, Liverpool, NY.

Santos and the remaining 12 state defendants were subsequently charged with Criminal Possession Controlled Substance 1st in violation of New York PL 220.21.

Reinaldo Santos, DOB 11/21/55 and  Noemi Torres, DOB 02/19/68, face the most serious of charges after the majority of the narcotics were seized from an elaborate after-market hidden compartment within the vehicle they were operating.


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