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Press Release

Leader Of Sex Trafficking And Drug Conspiracy Pleads Guilty, Faces Up To Life In Prison

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced that Lairon Graham a/k/a Shah a/k/a Uncle Shah a/k/a Unc, 65, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 400 grams or more of fentanyl and sex trafficking by force or coercion. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $20,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas T. Cooper and Aaron J. Mango, who are handling the case, stated that between 2013 and August 2021, Graham coerced four victims to engage in commercial sex acts by exploiting their addictions, by providing the victims with crack cocaine or heroin. Graham also used physical violence and threats of physical violence to get the victims to engage in commercial sexual activity. Graham brutally beat one victim on a near-daily basis.

In addition, between June 2020, and Spring 2021, Graham organized and led a drug conspiracy, selling cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl out of a residence on Swinburn Street in Buffalo. In the Spring of 2021, Graham moved his drug dealing operation into a Liddell Street residence. Graham was the primary source of supply of heroin and fentanyl to multiple individuals. Between January and August 2021, Graham resided on Davey Street in Buffalo, where on August 25, 2021, investigators executed a search warrant at the residence, seizing 43 grams of fentanyl, 37 grams of crack cocaine, $2,500 in cash, and assorted drug paraphernalia. Graham also used this residence to sell drugs and possessed a firearm inside the residence.

“This defendant not only sold dangerous and illegal drugs in our community, he used the addiction of vulnerable women to prey upon them and force them to commit sex acts for his financial benefit” stated U.S. Attorney Ross. “We as a society cannot, and will not, tolerate this type of criminal activity. With the work of our law enforcement partners, we have convicted this defendant, along with others who’ve engaged in this reprehensible behavior, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who commits these offenses in our community.”

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia stated, “As today’s plea details, Lairon Graham showed zero regard for human life by deceiving, manipulating, and profiting off those grappling with addiction for his benefit. The FBI’s focus is, and always will be, on protecting our communities from these violent offenders. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue our collaborative efforts to identify and dismantle violent gangs found to be dealing in the deadly drug trade.”

“Graham used violence and addiction to coerce and control the women he victimized—a technique all too common among human traffickers. After today’s guilty plea, Graham will be off the streets and looking at a significant federal sentence for his crimes,” said Matthew Scarpino, Special Agent-in-Charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Buffalo. “HSI works every day with our law enforcement and non-governmental organizational partners to make our communities safer. It is only through partnerships and collaboration that we can achieve this goal.”

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia stated, “These arrests and convictions bring an end to a level of violence that plagued the Broadway area of the City of Buffalo for far too long. Human trafficking, drug dealing, and shootings brought on a significant response from the Buffalo Police Department in partnership with law enforcement of all levels. These convictions were made possible by the dedicated work of the patrol officers and detectives of the Buffalo Police Department working side by side with all of our law enforcement partners. I thank all of our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney's office for obtaining these convictions.” 

Sheriff John C. Garcia stated, “We are delighted about the investigation and outcome. This case demonstrates the tremendous partnership between all levels of law enforcement throughout Western New York to remove this deadly poison from our streets and to end the leader’s reign of brutality and coercion by forcing his victims to engage in sex acts.”

Graham is the last of 10 defendants to be convicted in this case. Also convicted are Kimberly Udrea, Patrick Schrecengost a/k/a Country, Cornelius Truesdale a/k/a Big Corn, Anthony Graham, Johnny Williams, Jordan Davis, Thomas Degree, Joseph Ward, and Jamie Washington. 

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia; Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Scarpino; the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia; the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff John Garcia; the Lancaster Police Department, under the direction of Chief William Karn, Jr.; and the Lackawanna Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mark Packard.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 11, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Vilardo.

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Barbara Burns


Updated May 8, 2023

Human Trafficking
Drug Trafficking