Drug trafficking takedown in Syracuse, 15 arrested


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WETM) — Five alleged members of a drug trafficking conspiracy in Syracuse were arrested Wednesday.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the men are alleged to be members of a conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and heroin operating between Puerto Rico, New York City and Syracuse.

“These arrests confirm that even during this unprecedented global pandemic, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are working together to protect our communities from drug trafficking,” said Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon. “Our commitment will never waver.”

Wednesday’s takedown follows a series of previous arrests by the multi-agency investigation that now includes 15 defendants:

  • Jikeya McBride, 31, Syracuse
  • Aaron Acevedo, 27, Syracuse
  • Claudio Acevedo-Maquita, 55, New York City
  • Luis Mendez, 37, Syracuse
  • Samuel Matos, 27, Syracuse
  • Hector Santiago, 31, Syracuse
  • Helbert Calo-Birriel, 31, Syracuse
  • John Resto, 25, Syracuse
  • Luis Resto, 25, Syracuse
  • Jose Medina, 34, Syracuse
  • Omar Fuentes, 24, Syracuse
  • Jobany Tirado, 37, Syracuse
  • Rahfet Shehadeh, 27, Syracuse
  • Angel Negron-Collazo, 24, Syracuse
  • Joel Franco-Ortiz, 34, Puerto Rico

“The Syracuse Police Department is pleased to report a major drug operation has been removed from our city,” said Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner. “We accomplished the mission by coordination with our federal partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA. We will continue these collaborations in our efforts to pursue individuals responsible for drug trafficking and gang violence in our city.  It is our sincere hope this progress will improve the quality of life in some of our challenged communities.”

The five men arrested Wednesday appeared in court Thursday on federal criminal complaints alleging a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin—which operated from May 2020 to Sept. 16, 2020.

As part of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately 4.5 kilograms of cocaine, 1,140 bags of heroin (approximately 44 grams), $75,000, a ghost gun and three handguns.

“A major drug pipeline from Puerto Rico to Syracuse has been dismantled as a result of this homegrown investigation,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “Not only did we identify this drug network’s operations, we targeted the local dealers, taking guns and drugs off the streets of Syracuse. I applaud our law enforcement partners for their hard work and determination in keeping our cities safe.”

This case is being investigated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Syracuse Police Department, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Investigators from the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the New York State Police, and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sahar L. Amandolare.

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