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Justice News

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty To Drug Charges

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 Gabriel Rodriguez, 39, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 100 kilograms or more of marijuana before Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison, a maximum sentence of 40 years, and a fine of $5,000,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who is handling the case, stated that between 2004 and July 12, 2012, the defendant conspired with others to distribute large quantities of marijuana in the Buffalo area.  In April 2009, codefendants Jordan Ali and Shane Grafman began assisting one another in their drug distribution businesses. The defendants obtained the narcotics in the State of Arizona, and then utilized several methods to send the marijuana and cocaine to the Buffalo area, including cars, trucks, shipping crates and United States Postal Service parcels. Grafman also utilized private jets to travel from Arizona to Buffalo to pick up his drug proceeds. During this time, Rodriguez obtained more than 2,000 from Grafman and Ali for distribution in the Buffalo area.  

During the investigation, law enforcement officers seized approximately $1,000,000 in United States currency, including $671,385 from a hidden compartment within a Honda Ridgeline driven by Grafman.

A total of six defendants were arrested and convicted in this case. 

The plea is the culmination of investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Division; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James C. Spero; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James D. Robnett; United States Postal Service Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Shelly Binkowski; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam Cohen; Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda; Erie County Sheriff's Department, under the direction of Sheriff Tim Howard; Niagara Frontier Transit Authority, under the direction of Chief George Gast; Tempe, Arizona Police Department; Apache County, Arizona Sheriff's Department; and the Oklahoma State Police.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 18, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. before Judge Skretny.

Updated July 6, 2017