17 Defendants Indicted In International Drug Trafficking Ring
BUFFALO, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a 30 count indictment charging 17 defendants with multiple narcotics offenses for their role in a drug trafficking organization that utilized contacts and sources of supply from Mexico, California, and elsewhere. This organization trafficked thousands of kilograms of illegal narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine throughout the United States, including Lockport, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo.
“As set forth in the indictment and in Court, this organization represents the largest drug trafficking organization ever dismantled in this District, responsible for distributing tons of heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and marijuana on the streets of Buffalo, Lockport and Niagara Falls,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “The organization utilized front companies, deliverymen, and wholesalers to import and distribute the drugs in this area, and bookkeepers and money launderers to conceal the tens of millions of dollars sent from Buffalo back to the suppliers. Some intended user of these illegal drugs will potentially be alive tomorrow, thanks to the work done by law enforcement today.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt stated, “The Sinaloa Cartel’s reach from Mexico into U.S. Cities is most evident in this investigation. The Gil Organization’s alleged trafficking turned the City of Buffalo into ground zero for fentanyl/heroin trafficking in NY State; fueling drug addiction, overdoses and violent crime. Through an unprecedented collaboration between law enforcement, DEA and our law enforcement partners have successfully dismantled the organization that spanned from Mexico to Buffalo at all levels of operation.”
IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen said, “Tracing the complex flow of proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs is a proven, effective tool in dismantling drug organizations and we are proud that we do it very well. Moreover, the collaboration of skilled financial investigators, drug investigators, and prosecutors provides a formidable adversary in the fight against local, national, and international drug organizations. IRS-Criminal Investigation is pleased to be associated with such partnerships, including this one.”
Named in the indictment are:
• Jose Ruben Gil, a/k/a Unc, a/k/a Ruben Gil Campos, a/k/a Mayor of Mexico; • Herman E. Aguirre, a/k/a 007, a/k/a Lucky, a/k/a Primo, a/k/a Freddy; • Sonia Hernandez; • Martha Aguirre; • Juan Alfaro; • Margaret Banuelos, a/k/a Lisa; • Troy R. Gillon; • Darryl J. Williams, a/k/a D; • Trent Adair Hamilton; • Michael Paul Mitchell; • Demetrius Yarborough, a/k/a Tu-Tu; • Rashawn Crule, a/k/a Black, a/k/a Shawn; • Maulana Lucas, a/k/a Big Daddy, a/k/a Shabazz; • Shirley Grigsby • Ralik Hamilton; • Joseph Thompson, a/k/a Jo-Jo, a/k/a Skools, a/k/a Skoolboy and • Dion Cheatham
Charges include engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine; money laundering conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of crack cocaine, heroin and fentanyl; maintaining a drug-involved premises; felon in possession of firearm and ammunition; possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes; and obstruction of justice. All 17 defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meghan A. Tokash and Michael P. Felicetta, who are handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, members of the organization created fictitious “front” companies including Triton Foods, Inc., Kamora Investment Enterprises, Inc. and Fresh Choice Produce, all of which were incorporated in the State of California. Another fictitious company, Corral Seafoods, LLC, registered in the State of New York, was allegedly located in Cheektowaga, New York.
Using these companies, the defendants disguised kilogram quantities of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine on pallets described on inventory and other documents as containing “Sea Cucumbers.” The pallets bearing the illegal narcotics were secreted in containers sealed with foam or spray insulation to avoid detection by law enforcement.
Members of the organization also utilized numerous bank accounts at a financial institution to conceal and disguise drug proceeds.
During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers seized over $2,500,000 worth of illegal narcotics, including:
• 52.5 kilograms of cocaine; • 17.5 kilograms of heroin; and • 8.5 kilograms of fentanyl
Using standard dosage amounts, the seized drugs potentially represent over 1,500,000 “hits” of cocaine, and 2,700,000 “hits” of heroin.
The investigation further determined that between June 2013 and September 2015, members of the organization additionally distributed over 5,000 pounds of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and marijuana in the Western New York area. The indictment alleges that approximately $20,000,000 was sent from Western New York banks to California in a one year period of time. The investigation into remaining members of the Gill/Aquirre drug trafficking organization continues. The indictment 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, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Shantelle P. Kitchen
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.