Five suspected meth dealers busted in early morning raids
An alleged meth distribution ring with a hub in Le Roy and alleged dealers in Batavia and Rochester was broken up by a region-wide law enforcement effort early this morning.
Five individuals were arrested and now face a federal charge of conspiracy with intent to distribute narcotics.
None of the individuals are suspected of manufacturing methamphetamine.
U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said at a press conference this afternoon that 75 grams of meth were recovered following the months long investigation that included wiretaps and the use of informants.
Sheriff Gary Maha would only say that the suspected meth was being manufactured "somewhere in the states."
"We're not concerned about there being a major lab out there in Genesee County," Maha said.
Donald G. Vanelli, 47, of 8394 Lake St., Le Roy, is suspected of playing a central role in acquisition and distribution of meth.
Vanelli, according to a press release put out late Friday by Hochul's office, is president of the Road Agents Motorcycle Club.
Much of the meth allegedly distributed by the ring was being sold in Batavia and throughout Genesee County, but one suspected dealer lived in Rochester. He is David H. Cohen, 49, of 918 Goodman St.
Also taken into custody were Donna L. Boon (aka Donna Mcauly), 44, of 3658 Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road; Andrew W. Chapman, 40, of 5 Cedar St., Batavia; and Kerry A. Ball, 51, of 7202 Meadville Road, Basom.
“We’ve made a number of significant drug arrests here in Genesee County, but this is pretty significant as far as the distribution of methamphetamine,” Maha said. “We think these people are major, major suppliers here in Genesee County.”
Cohen, Boon, Chapman and Ball were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Rochester this afternoon and released. Federal prosecutors were going to ask that Vanelli be held without bail.
Cohen is accused of obtaining meth in Genesee County and distributing it in Monroe County, as well as sometimes being a conduit to resupply Vanelli.
Search warrants were executed at the homes of Boon and Vanelli. K-9 units from Orleans and Monore counties were used in the searches.
A 9mm semi-automatic gun, loaded with 10 rounds, was reportedly seized at Vanelli's home.
Authorities believe that Boon would sometimes supply meth to Vanelli for redistribution.
The federal charge carries a minimum five-year prison sentence, with a maximum available sentence of 40 years and a $2 million fine.
The street value of the 75 grams of meth, according to Hochul is about $7,000.
The stiffer federal penalties are exactly why the FBI and U.S. District Attorney's Office were brought into the investigation, according to Maha.
"We said in the beginning (a little less than a year ago when the first alleged meth lab was found in Alabama), we’re not going to tolerate methamphetamine here in Genesee County," Maha said. "So when it’s brought to our attention that people are manufacturing, or that people are distributing, methamphetamine we’re going to go after them as hard as we can."
The investigation is continuing and there may be additional arrests.
"An investigation into any crime isn’t complete until everybody who is responsible for either the trafficking, procurement of any of the substances and finally the financing are identified and prosecuted," Hochul said.
The culmination of "Operation Deep Freeze" began at 3 a.m. with members of the Batavia Police Department rapid response team (SWAT) meeting at the Sheriff's Office before heading out to serve search warrants and arrest the suspects. By 5:30 a.m., investigators from the Sheriff's Office and the FBI were heading into the field to conduct searches on the suspects' residences.
The investigation began, according to Maha, with informants. He shied away from characterizing them as "citizens" or people involved in criminal activity. He said there was no connection between this alleged distribution ring and the five previous alleged meth labs found in the county.
Also participating in the investigation were the Drug Enforcement Administration, State Police and the Le Roy Police Department as well as the Genesee County District Attorney's Office.
|David Cohen||Kerry Ball||Andrew Chapman|
Inset photos: top, Vanelli; bottom, Boon.