A.G. Schneiderman’s Operation Uptown Red Alert Takes Down Defendants For Shipping Over $550k Worth Of Narcotics From New York City To The Capital Region
Last Month, The AG Launched The SURGE Initiative To Crack Down On Violent Heroin and Opioid Traffickers In Suburban And Upstate New York
Schneiderman: We Have No Tolerance For Dangerous Drug Trafficking Rings That Fuel The Cycle Of Addiction
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the guilty pleas of Juan Ramos and Noemi Maldonado, the leaders of a large-scale narcotics trafficking ring that served as a multi-state heroin, cocaine, and prescription drug pipeline from New York City to the Capital Region, as well as Maine and Pennsylvania. Ramos and Maldonado, both from Brooklyn, pled guilty yesterday to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, a class A-1 felony; they will each be sentenced on July 20th to 15 years in prison, followed by five years of post-release supervision.
Last month, Attorney General Schneiderman announced a Suburban And Upstate Response To The Growing Epidemic – (“S.U.R.G.E”) Initiative – a new law enforcement effort that brings together the AG’s Organized Crime Task Force and local and state law enforcement to disrupt New York’s widening heroin and opioid distribution networks.
“We have zero tolerance for dangerous drug trafficking rings – and those who deal drugs and violence in our communities should be on notice: we won’t hesitate to bring you to justice,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Our S.U.R.G.E Initiative is utilizing out state’s most effective law enforcement resources to crack down on the violent, expansive heroin and opioid networks around the state. We’ll continue to aggressively prosecute criminals who fuel the cycle of addiction, part of our multipronged approach to fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic that is tearing families apart across New York.”
Ramos and Maldonado led a drug trafficking ring that trafficked hundreds of thousands of dollars of heroin, cocaine and illegal prescription medication from New York City to the Capital Region, as well as Maine and Pennsylvania. During the underlying investigation, law enforcement seized more than two pounds of bulk heroin, capable of being packaged into 50,000 bags of heroin to be sold on the street—giving the heroin an approximate street value of $500,000. Law enforcement also seized more than a pound of bulk cocaine with an approximate street value of $50,000, a homemade heroin kilogram press, 1,067 Oxycodone pills, over $21,000 in cash, two shotguns, and one handgun. The investigation also revealed that Ramos and Maldonado transported narcotics to customers in a BMW valued around $120,000.
The investigation, called “Operation Uptown Red Alert,” was conducted by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, the City of Albany Police Department, and the New York State Police, and led to the indictment of 27 people, all of whom have now pled guilty with the exception of two defendants that still have active warrants for their arrests. The charges against those remaining two defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "Thanks to the hard work and partnership of our law enforcement members at the state, federal and local level, we have successfully shut down another illegal drug trafficking operation that was bringing dangerous narcotics into our communities. The sentencing of these two individuals serves as reminder that we will not tolerate the sale of illegal narcotics nor the criminal activity that is associated with them. Furthermore, we will aggressively pursue any criminal that threatens the safety of our neighborhoods and continue to do what it takes to protect our communities from the infiltration of these illegal substances.”
Attorney General Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force has partnered with state and local law enforcement to bring over 800 accused drug and gun dealers to justice, since 2010. In addition to prosecuting major drug trafficking rings, the Attorney General has taken numerous steps to combat the opioid crisis in New York including but not limited to:
- Creating the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act (“I-STOP), an online Prescription Monitoring Program (“PMP”) that enables doctors and pharmacists to report and track controlled narcotics in real time.
- Aggressively enforcing laws that require parity in health plan coverage of mental health and addiction treatment and reaching agreements with five companies: Cigna, MVP Health Care, EmblemHealth, Excellus, and ValueOptions.
- Obtaining settlements with Cigna, Anthem, and BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS), who all agreed to remove prior authorization requirements for medication-assisted treatment (“MAT”) nationwide.
- Reaching agreements with Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. to ensure that these opioid manufacturers engage in responsible and legal marketing.
Most recently, Attorney General Schneiderman launched the Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic (“S.U.R.G.E.”) Initiative, which target gangs and individuals who deal heroin and opioids and commit acts of violence in suburban and upstate communities across New York State, in partnership with local and state law enforcement. As part of the S.U.R.G.E Initiative, Attorney General Schneiderman announced the take down a 52-person heroin and opioid ring in Operation Bricktown last month.