(photo from NYSP)
A Pembroke grandmother is the focal point of a multi-agency investigation into drug dealing in WNY, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced in Buffalo today.
Geraldine Horsefall is accused of obtaining hydrocodone pills from various individuals -- many of whom were arrested as part of the drug sweep -- and selling them to residents on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation and in Erie and Niagara counties.
She's also accused of buying and selling cocaine as part of an organization that moved a large quantity of the narcotic.
The arrests were announced as part of the conclusion of an 18-month investigation called Operation Lockport, which led to 160 combined criminal counts against 25 people. The exact list of charges were not released.
At the press conference today, Schneiderman described Horsefall as a linchpin in the operation who allegedly enlisted the aid of her children and brought her grandchildren along while allegedly selling drugs.
“You know when someone brings small children along with them to make themselves a more effective drug dealer, that’s about as low as you can get," Schneiderman said.
The arrest of Horsefall, 59, and her alleged accomplices were announced along with several other arrests in a second cocaine dealing investigation in Erie and Niagara counties
The other investigation also led to the discovery of bi-monthly cockfights on an Indian reservation in Niagara County.
“Drug trafficking rings like these infect our neighborhoods and tear apart our communities,” Schneiderman said. “Today’s arrests strike a significant blow to the drug trade across Western New York. My office, with our strong collaboration with law enforcement partners, will fight to make our communities safer by rooting out large-scale narcotics trafficking networks.”
Local law enforcement agents from Erie, Niagara and Genesee counties -- along with members of the Genesee County Local Drug Enforcement Task Force, State Police and DEA -- all participated in the investigation, which included undercover operations, GPS tracking devices and hundreds of hours of covert surveillance.
“It is through the combined efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement that these dangerous individuals are now off our streets and out of our communities,” NYSP Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said. “We worked together identifying these dealers, pinpointing their drug activity and shutting down their enterprises.
Other Genesee County residents charged with crimes as a result of the investigation are: Rylyn Horsefall, 33, of Pembroke; Lori Schwab, 33, of Corfu; and Eric Parker, 38, of Pembroke.
Also arrested was 42-year-old Michelle King, of Akron, reportedly a nurse in a doctor's office who allegedly helped supply controlled substances to Horsefall.
Operation Lockport led to the seizure of approximately two kilograms of cocaine and more than $60,000 in cash, officials said.
Members of the alleged narcotics ring would transport cocaine from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to WNY, authorities said.
Investigators believe that the suspects would pack cocaine into the soles and heels of doctored pairs of shoes and then cut up the shoes once in Buffalo. The shoes, along with box cutters, razor blades and utility knives, were allegedly found in a vehicle belonging to Vincent Mundy, of Fort Lauderdale, who was arrested this morning.
DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said Operation Lockport totally dismantled a complete drug-dealing operation.
"Today's arrests have put an end to their drug network, arresting crew members at all levels -- those who sold crack cocaine and cocaine on the streets, to the resellers, to the suppliers who transported the drugs from Florida to Buffalo concealed in soles of shoes," Hunt said. "I commend the dedication and teamwork of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners throughout this investigation."