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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 3, 2018

Four Defendants Plead Guilty For Their Roles In A Major Drug Trafficking Operation In Lockport, Ny

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that four defendants pleaded guilty in connection with a large drug trafficking organization operating out of Lockport, NY:

• Ramone Westbrook, 35, of Niagara Falls NY, and Rico Freeman, 34, of Lockport NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 280 grams or more of crack cocaine and face a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $20,000,000 fine;
• In addition, co-defendants Kurtis Washington, 27, and Darius Dix, 27, both of Lockport, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of crack cocaine which is punishable by a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years and fine of $5,000,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan A. Tokash, who is handling the case, stated that between May 2016 and June 2017, defendant Westbrook operated a high traffic and extremely profitable cocaine and crack cocaine distribution network. Westbrook obtained cocaine and crack cocaine from several sources of supply in Atlanta, Georgia, North Carolina and New York City and from a local source of supply in Niagara Falls. Westbrook then supplied co-defendant Rico Freeman for further distribution in the Lockport area during the course of the conspiracy.

On May 24, 2017, federal agents executed a search warrant at Ramone Westbrook’s residence on Whitney Avenue in Niagara Falls. When agents forced entry, the defendant jumped off a second story balcony and fled from law enforcement but was captured immediately. A search of the residence recovered over a kilogram of cocaine, crack cocaine, two money counters, drug scales, and $22,295.00 in drug proceeds.

Defendants Washington and Dix were also part of the drug trafficking organization, distributing cocaine and crack cocaine in the Lockport area.

On four occasions between March 3, 2017, and May 11, 2017, Washington sold cocaine to a Niagara County Drug Task Force confidential source. Washington was arrested by Buffalo Police officers on June 19, 2017. He was in possession of 26 grams of cocaine Washington tried to flee during a pat-down search and attempted to discard the cocaine.

On February 14, 2017, Dix sold a quantity of cocaine to a confidential informant working with law enforcement officers. He was arrested on December 27, 2016 by Lockport Police officers who recovered 10 grams of cocaine from Dix.

The pleas are the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, Special Agent Shane Nastoff, and Task Force Officer Eric Herrington; the Lockport Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Niethe; the Niagara County Drug Task Force, under the direction of Sheriff James Voutour; the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the direction of Chief Bryan DalPorto; and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood. 

Rico Freeman is scheduled to be sentenced on August 6th at 9:15 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. Sentencing for the remaining defendants will be scheduled at a later date. 

Updated May 4, 2018