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Press Release

Buffalo man pleads guilty to multiple charges for his role in drug conspiracy

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

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Joseph Zaso a/k/a Joey Cracks a/k/a Sosa, 40, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to narcotics conspiracy, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and concealment of material fact. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum of life in prison. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua A. Violanti, who is handling the case, stated that between September 2018, and May 2022, Zaso conspired with others to sell significant quantities of heroin and fentanyl in the Jamestown, NY, area. Zaso, the leader of the drug trafficking activity, was the source of supply for several Jamestown drug dealers, and used a series of dealers and runners to facilitate his operation. During the conspiracy, Zaso possessed firearms to protect his supply of narcotics, from which he obtained substantial income and resources. On May 26, 2022, search warrants were executed at his Buffalo  residence, during which investigators seized drug paraphernalia.

During the conspiracy, Zaso was under the supervision of U.S. Probation in the Western District of New York, following a 2015 conviction in the Eastern District of Michigan. Zaso was required to submit monthly reports to U.S. Probation, which included information about his employment. Zaso signed and submitted monthly reports falsely reporting his employment. Zaso also falsely concealed his income and the existence of bank accounts under his control in addition to lying about his employment. Zaso did not report his actual income because most of it was derived from drug trafficking. 

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Jamestown Police Department, under the direction of Chief Timothy Jackson, the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Frank A. Tarentino III, New York Field Division, and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff James Quattrone.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 30, 2024, before Judge Vilardo.      

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Barbara Burns



Updated May 23, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses