You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 18, 2013

Seven Arrested; Charged With Drug Conspiracy and Money Laundering

BUFFALO, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a
federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Steven Bennett, 42, of Buffalo,
N.Y.; Chandra Woods, 29, of Los Angeles, California; Jessica Lopez, 32, of Buffalo,
N.Y.; Phillip Keomongkoun, 26, of Buffalo, N.Y.; Malcom Bull, 21, of Jamestown, N.Y.;
Nikki Lillard, 49, of Buffalo, N.Y.; and Guy Burt with conspiracy to possess with intent
to distribute, and to distribute, methamphetamine and cocaine, and money laundering
conspiracy. The charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a
maximum of 40 years, a $5,000,000 fine or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel L. Violanti, who is handling the case, stated that
according to the indictment, between July 2012 and January 2013, Steven Bennett was a
supplier of methamphetamine and cocaine. The defendant shipped the drugs from
California to Buffalo for distribution by his co-defendants. Bennett made numerous trips
to Buffalo to coordinate the shipments and further distribute the drugs.

"This investigation focused on a narcotic which is only beginning to be seen in our
area and involved an organization that was seeking to create a market for this dangerous
drug," said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "The fact that law enforcement was able to conclude
this highly successful investigation in such a short period of time is to be commended."

DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell stated, “This organization was
attempting to establish a customer base for Mexican methamphetamine and cocaine in the
Western New York area – meth use destroys families, communities, and is extremely
dangerous to our public. Any organization attempting to traffic meth is one of the top
priorities for our task force. Our dedicated task force investigators identified the source of
this extremely high purity methamphetamine being distributed throughout Buffalo’sneighborhoods, traced it back to Steven Bennet and his co-conspirators, and has them
facing justice today. Like any illegal drug, methamphetamine has the potential to cause
overdoses and death to many of its users, while also increasing violence, theft and crime
associated with drug trafficking. I highly commend the men and women of our joint local,
state and federal task force who worked with a sense of urgency to protect the citizens of
Buffalo from this drug trafficking organization."

The indictment is the result of an investigation on the part of members of the Drug
Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian R.
Crowell, New York Field Division, the Erie County Sheriff's Department, under the
direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard, the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the
direction of Chief David Zack, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation
Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Toni Weirauch.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation
and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.