Aug 22, 2023

9 drug

KINGSTON, N.Y. — Nine alleged drug dealers and motorcycle gang members, including seven Ellenville residents, were indicted and arrested by federal agents Wednesday ending a “ring of lawlessness,” Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa said at a press conference.

The men were implicated for their alleged roles in a drug trafficking organization that distributed “kilogram-sized quantities of cocaine and fentanyl” between March 2021 and January 2023 in Kingston, Ellenville and other areas of Ulster County, U.S. Attorney Carla Freedman said at the press conference Wednesday in the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center at 380 Boulevard.

“Today we dismantled a drug trafficking organization that would have continued to distribute fentanyl in New York City, Westchester County and the Hudson Valley that could have killed people. The crimes associated with this organization and the negative impact they had on our communities cannot be understated,” Figueroa said.

Authorities executed search warrants at multiple residences in Ellenville, White Plains, the Bronx and Manhattan early Wednesday, seizing about 4 kilograms of fentanyl, 500 grams of cocaine, $600,000 in drug proceeds and five firearms, Freedman said.

The haul Wednesday included enough fentanyl for “at least 200,000 lethal doses,” Freedman said.

Freedman, Ivan J. Arvelo, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York; Figueroa, whose office leads the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team (URGENT) and Ellenville Police Chief Philip Mattracion were among officials attending the press conference, along with state police Lt. Michael Rhodes.

The gangs allegedly involved were not identified because the investigations remain open and active, Figueroa said.

“This case is the result of the close collaboration among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that produces successful and significant drug trafficking prosecutions in Ulster County,” Freedman said.

Those involved “are accused of drug-related crimes, all of which were allegedly part of their unlawful pursuit of money and power. But that ends today,” said Ivan Arvelo, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge. “HSI New York is proud to have partnered with the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police. Our shared commitment toward accomplishing our ultimate goal — justice — knows no bounds,” he said.

Figueroa said the arrests were the result of “hard work and collaboration” between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, HSI, his agency, state police, the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office and the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Task Force.

“When you take this kind of fentanyl off the streets you’re saving thousands of lives. It’s a poison unlike anything our nation has ever seen,” Mattracion said.

The men arrested Wednesday face sentences of five years to life in federal prison if convicted, prosecutors said. All are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.

Ellenville residents arrested Wednesday include Joshua “Swaggs” Atkinson, 26; Joshua “Young” Morales, 34; and Luis “Banks” Santiago, 35, who face 10 years to life in prison if convicted. Ellenville residents facing 5 to 40 years in prison if convicted are Joseph “Jabb” Logan, 32; Frankie Maldonado Jr., 36; Justin Torres, 35; and Erkan Denix, 38, aka “E” and “Ed.”

Additionally, Deniz is charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, Atkinson is charged with distribution of cocaine and fentanyl, and Santiago is charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and fentanyl.

Also arrested were Christopher “Butta” Baez, 45, of Manhattan, for faces 10 years to life in prison, and Daryl “whiz” Livingston, 35, of Huguenot, who faces 20 years in federal prison.

As of Thursday afternoon, officials did not know whether all or any of the men remained in federal custody. Their cases were expected to be heard in federal court in Albany on Wednesday afternoon.