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Press Release

Buffalo Man Arrested On Cocaine Charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that Pethrod Dunnigan, 37, of Buffalo, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison, a  maximum of life, a $10,000,000 or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Adler, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, in May 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration began receiving information that multiple individuals were making multiple deposits of cash at a Bank of America branch in Buffalo. A majority of the deposits were just under $10,000. Deposits of $10,000 or more would require the bank to report the transaction.

Further investigation revealed that individuals with ties to a Mexican drug cartel were traveling from California to Buffalo to traffic cocaine. These individuals stayed at Buffalo area hotels. They also received packages of cocaine which they then distributed to local drug dealers. The proceeds from the cocaine sales were deposited at local branches in amounts just under $10,000. According to the complaint, between April and December 2014, 108 structured deposits were made totaling $1,049,270,00.  

In December 2014, four individuals were arrested after another 10-15 deposits of $9,900 were made into local bank accounts. Further investigation determined that a phone number subscribed to the defendant made 257 calls to one of the defendants arrested between November 29 and December 11, 2014. 

On March 4, 2015, law enforcement officers seized approximately $500,000 in suspected drug proceeds in California. According to the complaint, the defendant helped to package the money in the refrigerator that it was shipped in from Buffalo to California.  

The defendant made an initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott and is being held pending a detention hearing on December 16, 2015.    

The criminal complaint is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division, Immigration and Custom Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Shantelle P. Kitchen, Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Office.

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

Updated December 14, 2015