(WNY News Now) – New York Attorney General Letitia James declared a major victory in the fight against drug trafficking as a multi-agency operation successfully dismantled a narcotics network responsible for distributing heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine across several counties in the Capital Region. The crackdown resulted in the indictment of 25 individuals on 164 charges, exposing a complex web of criminal activity involving substantial quantities of narcotics, firearms, and a sophisticated distribution network.
N.Y. – In a significant development, the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) led a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies, including the New York State Police, City of Troy Police Department, Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office, Schenectady Police Department, and the Schenectady Sheriff’s Office. The year-long investigation utilized covert surveillance and extensive wiretaps on over two dozen target phones, unraveling the intricate operations of the drug trafficking ring.
At the heart of this criminal enterprise were Alexander Torres and Yamillet Galarza, central figures who orchestrated the procurement and sale of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine in Rensselaer County. Torres, identified as a major trafficker, faced charges carrying a mandatory life sentence for his role in the operation. Notably, the investigation exposed Torres’ attempt to import a kilogram of cocaine from Puerto Rico, cleverly concealed within an encyclopedia.
Efrain Acevedo, another key player, operated as a major cocaine distributor, using a restaurant named “El Coqui” in Troy as a front for his illegal activities. The takedown also resulted in the confiscation of four handguns, two large capacity ammunition feeding devices, and over $50,000 in cash. The combined street value of the seized narcotics, including three kilograms of cocaine and 40 grams of fentanyl-laced heroin, was estimated at approximately $350,000.
The Attorney General’s SURGE Initiative, aimed at combating violent drug trafficking since 2017, has now removed 934 alleged traffickers from communities. Today’s announcement reinforces the commitment to addressing the growing epidemic of drug-related crimes in suburban and upstate areas.
The unsealed indictment in Rensselaer County Court lists 25 individuals facing various charges, including Criminal Sale and Possession of a Controlled Substance, as well as Conspiracy in the Second Degree. The charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Attorney General Letitia James expressed gratitude to Rensselaer District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly and the Schenectady County Drug Task Force for their collaborative efforts in the investigation. The operation was directed by New York State Police Investigator Matthew Guiry, supervised by Senior Investigators Robert Martin and Vonnie Vardine, and coordinated by OCTF Detective Michael Connelly, with additional support from the U.S. Army National Guard Counterdrug Task Force.