ALBANY—United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian announced the unsealing of an indictment returned by a federal grand jury for the Northern District of New York in Albany, New York, that charges nine individuals with federal drug felonies arising out of a multi-agency investigation of large-scale heroin distribution in and around Schenectady, New York.
The following nine defendants are charged in count one of indictment 12-CR-306 with the crime of conspiracy to distribute heroin from November 1, 2011 through June 7, 2012:
■Carlos A. Monegro, Schenectady, New York, 41
■Marisol Serra-Cruz, Schenectady, New York, 38
■Wanda I. Velez, Schenectady, New York, 46
■Juan Luis Lopez, Schenectady, New York, 47
■Donato Melendez-Pineiro, Schenectady, New York, 22
■Luis A. Torres Schenectady, New York, 21
■Arnez Nino Vazquez, Schenectady, New York, 40
■Noel Geovanny Baez, Schenectady, New York, 35
■Timothy Figueroa, Schenectady, New York, 24
Carlos A. Monegro, Marisol Serra-Cruz, Juan Luis Lopez, and Noel Geovanny Baez face a maximum of life in prison. The remaining defendants face up to forty years in prison.
All of the above defendants, with the exception of Noel Geovanny Baez, were arrested this morning and are scheduled for their initial appearance and arraignment today at 1:30 p.m. before United States Magistrate Judge David R. Homer in Albany.
These charges are the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Capital District Drug Enforcement Task Force; the Schenectady Police Department; the New York State Police; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Homeland Security Investigations; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Service; Northern District of New York, Albany Office; and the Office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York.
U.S. Attorney Hartunian praised the outstanding cooperative efforts of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies who participated in this investigation. U.S. Attorney Hartunian noted that his office will continue to work closely with the federal, state, and local authorities to prosecute individuals and organizations that engage in narcotics trafficking, and other criminal activity throughout the Northern District of New York.
DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Wilbert L. Plummer stated, “Like a pyramid scheme with workers at all levels distributing, smuggling, transporting, and selling products, this drug trafficking organization put poison on the streets of Schenectady for one reason only—profit. This very organized illegal business was identified and dismantled due to the coordination of local, state, and federal law enforcement.”
New York State Police CNET Assistant Detail Commander, Captain Robert Patnaude said, “The coordination, cooperation, and investigative persistence of the many law enforcement agencies responsible for these indictments sends a strong message that those involved in the illegal drug trade will face severe consequences. The New York State Police will continue to work with our partner agencies to bring drug dealers to justice.”
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.