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Justice News

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Buffalo Man Arrested For Selling Drugs Near A Buffalo School

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.- Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Thomas Cox, 49, of Buffalo, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school or playground. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life.  

“By openly operating what essentially was a drug market in such close proximity to a school, this defendant has earned himself the opportunity to receive a well-deserved extra-credit bonus when it comes to punishment in the event he is convicted of the crime with which he has been charged,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. 

DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James Hunt stated, “Buffalo’s law enforcement agencies combined resources to arrest this alleged drug dealer responsible for fueling drug addiction and drug-related crime throughout our neighborhoods. Expediently, we identified and removed a threat in arms’ length of school children, putting them in harm’s way. Neither law enforcement nor our communities tolerate drug trafficking, and these arrests prove that by working together we send a message to traffickers that we will continue to weed you out.”  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Astorga, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, in February 2017, law enforcement officers began an investigation into the cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana distribution activities of the defendant out of a residence at 45 A Street in Buffalo.

On March 3, 2017, officers conducted surveillance of the residence at 45 A Street and witnessed the defendant discussing the sale of cocaine with an individual. Cox was then observed getting into vehicle and driving a short distance to a residence at 325 Mills Street. After a few minutes inside, the defendant left the Mills Street residence and returned to the A Street residence. Cox was then observed selling a plastic sandwich bag containing a quantity of white powder that had been compressed into a chunk. The substance tested positive for the presence of cocaine.

A few days later, on March 8, 2017, officers once again surveilled the A Street address and noticed traffic coming and going from the residence. Cox was observed exiting the front door of the residence and traveling once again to 325 Mills Street. Once again, the defendant eventually returned to the A Street residence and provided cocaine to another individual.

On March 10, 2017, officers executed a search warrant at 325 Mills Street and discovered a small safe in the attic area which contained a substantial amount of United States Currency and a blue canvas bag containing two plastic baggies of suspected crack cocaine, a digital scale with drug residue, and numerous empty plastic sandwich bags.  A search of 45 A Street revealed a large quantity of small Ziploc bags commonly used for packaging crack cocaine. A DVR video recording system which recorded the interior and exterior of 45 A Street was also seized. The defendant was found inside 45 A Street when the search warrant was executed and arrested.  The residences at 325 Mills Street and 45 A Street are located within about 230 feet and 72 feet of Buffalo Public School 59, The Science Magnet School located at 50 A Street.

The defendant made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder and is being detained.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Timothy Howard; Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy; and the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Zack.
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 March 16, 2017