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Contraband
06/04/2009

25 arrested in Rochester, N.Y., area drug smuggling ring

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent in Charge Lev Kubiak, Acting U.S. Attorney Kathleen M. Mehltretter and New York State Police Major Mark Koss, jointly announced today the arrest of 25 Rochester-area residents involved in an international ecstacy and marijuana trafficking organization. Those arrested are on the attached list.
Those arrested are charged in a 12-count federal indictment with various violations, including conspiracy to distribute ecstacy, methamphetamine and marijuana, some of which carry a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.

Acting U.S. Attorney Mehltretter stated that the arrests today disrupted a large distribution network involving the transportation of these illegal substances into the United States from Canada. Mehltretter lauded the cooperative effort of law enforcement, in particular, the newly constructed Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), under the direction of ICE SAC Kubiak of the Buffalo Office of Investigations. BEST is comprised of  local, state and federal law enforcement organizations from Canada and the United States. Mehltretter also praised the efforts of the New York State Police,  who played a major role in the investigation, which included the monitoring of illicit communications pursuant to federal wiretap orders. The New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), under the direction of Major John J. McCabe, is the narcotics enforcement component of the State Police that assisted in these efforts.

"Today's arrests show clearly how the intensive cooperation of all members of the ICE-led BEST  can bring to justice a criminal organization that was bringing illegal drugs into the United States," said Kubiak. "The organization targeted in this investigation was reaping profits by bringing these dangerous drugs into the country and distributing them in our community. ICE and our BEST partners are dedicated to targeting and dismantling criminal organizations which endanger public safety on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border."

In connection with the arrests, authorities executed 22 search warrants at various locations throughout the City of Rochester and Greece, which resulted in the seizure of approximately 70 lbs of marijuana, ecstacy pills worth approximately $70,000, 7 handguns, and 2 shotguns.  United States Attorney Mehltretter, SAC Kubiak and Major Koss also recognized the efforts of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge David Zon, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Michael Lawandus, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Kevin Oakes and James Engleman, the Rochester Police Department (RPD), under the direction of Chief David Moore, the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Task Force (GRANET), under the direction of RPD  Lt. Joe Morabito, and Canadian BEST task force members, including the Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto Police Services, Canada Border Services Agency, Niagara Regional Police Services, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who participated in the investigation, arrests and search warrant executions. They noted that without the efforts of the dedicated men and women in these agencies, the operation would not have been possible.

The Investigation was supported by the U.S. Department of Justices's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, and is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Marangola.

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.
The following were arrested:

Ronald Gunter, a/k/a "Randy" - 552 Mill Rd., Greece, N.Y.
Jennifer Bottenfield - 49 Mayberry , Rochester, N.Y.
Allan Francisco - 416 Clay Ave., Rochester, N.Y.
Darlingston Wright - 452 Alexander St., Apt. 4, Rochester, N.Y.
Saul Torres - 51 Owen St., Rochester, N.Y.
Lavelle D. Chestnut - 326 Sherwood Ave., Rochester, N.Y.
Alvin McDew - 71 Avenue C, Rochester, N.Y.
Evelyn Jones - 403 Melville St., Rochester, N.Y.
Damon Burton - 454 Melville St., Rochester, N.Y.