Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

December 7, 2006

Attorney General Corbett announces breakup of multi-million dollar heroin rings operating in Northeast Pennsylvania

SCRANTON - Attorney General Tom Corbett, Lackawanna County District Attorney Andrew Jarbola, Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas, along with local, state and federal law enforcement officials today announced the breakup of two separate multi-million dollar heroin distribution rings operating in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.  Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI) agents, Scranton police and FBI agents have arrested 15 of 27 members of the two heroin distribution rings.

Corbett said the investigation, which is known as "Operation Smackdown," is the largest drug investigation ever conducted by the Attorney General's Office in Northeast Pennsylvania.  The investigation began in April of this year with BNI agents conducting controlled "buys" from a heroin supplier in the Scranton area. 

Corbett said as the investigation unfolded, his agents learned of the existence of two separate heroin distribution rings allegedly being operated by members of a street gang known as the "Bloods."  The leaders of the organizations are all originally from New York City and relocated to Scranton to establish their drug enterprise. 

Corbett said his agents estimate that from April through December of this year the two organizations distributed approximately 3,000 bags of heroin per week.  He explained that the street level value of a bag of heroin in northeast Pennsylvania is approximately $20.  BNI agents estimate the two gangs sold at least $3.85 million worth of heroin since April.

Corbett said as the investigation proceeded, court authorized wire taps were used to determine the scope of the organization and help identify suppliers. 

Corbett identified the leaders of the heroin distribution rings as Ricardo Cruz and Sekou "Koo" Lashley both of Scranton, Siburt Walter of New York City and Jose "Diddy" Quintero of Scranton.

Operation Smackdown3Cruz/Lashley Organization

Corbett said that the Cruz/Lashley organization was operated by Ricardo Cruz, and his top lieutenant, Sekou "Koo" Lashley, both of whom are members of the Bloods street gang. Seventeen of their associates are being charged in this wave of the investigation. 

During the course of the investigation, Corbett said, his agents identified Victor Garcia of New York City as the main supplier of heroin to the Cruz organization.  Garcia, who is also being charged in this wave of the investigation, operated from a barber shop in Bronx, New York.

The charges allege that Cruz would send Lashley to pick up the heroin from Garcia in New York City.  On other occasions, Garcia would transport the heroin himself in his car which contained a hidden compartment to avoid detection by law enforcement.

The charges allege that Cruz' girlfriend, Christina Cavezza, lived with him at his Scranton residence, and assisted him in his drug trade. Cruz allegedly obtained a 13 shot Glock pistol, with a laser, and carried it everywhere he and Cavezza went. 

Cruz allegedly hid his heroin in a "stash house" located at 230 Gaston Place, Scranton. 

Corbett said the investigation found that Cruz had established a wide network of drug dealers who obtained large amounts of heroin from him and that each dealer had their own distribution networks in either Lackawanna or Luzerne counties.

Corbett identified the dealers as Dorian Spellman, Paulette Sunday, Tori Wilson, Lori Detrick, Anthony Guglielmo, Cathy Ryzner all of Scranton, Thomas Howells of Mayfield, Paul Warrick of Greenfield Township, Karen Novak of Plains, Daniel Halapin of Wyoming, Mike Bauman of Pittston, John Appnel of Duryea, Amy Jones of Dickson City, and Amanda Woronekin.

Evidence established through the wire tap and surveillance, demonstrated that these dealers obtained large amounts of heroin, primarily from Lashley, who in many instances "fronted" them the heroin.  After selling the heroin to their own street-level dealers, they paid
Lashely.

Corbett said Amy Jones, one of the dealers that obtained heroin, allegedly purchased heroin from Lashley on November 28th at a gas station on North Main Avenue in Scranton.  During the drug transaction, undercover BNI agents observed Jones remove a small child from her car, give the child to another woman, buy the heroin from Lashley and retrieve the child.
 
Also charged in this wave of the investigation is Lashley's step-brother, Kirk Lord.  He is currently in the Lackawanna County Jail on work release and is also a member of the Bloods.

Operation Smackdown2Walter/Quintero Organization

Corbett said the investigation identified Siburt Walter of New York City and Jose Quintero of Scranton as the leaders of the other heroin organization and are also members of the Bloods.

Quintero ran the heroin organization from Scranton and was assisted by Antuan "Booby" Been, Victor Diaz and Aaron Moore, all of Scranton and members of the Bloods.  Also assisting Walter and Quintero in their heroin distribution was Jackie Novak of Scranton and Danielle McDermott of Pittston.

The charges allege that McDermott, who obtained large amounts of heroin from Quintero, had established her own distribution network primarily in the Pittston area.  The charges allege that Jackie Novak transported drugs and collected money for Qunitero. 

The investigation also found that Cathy Ryzner, who obtained heroin from the Cruz organization, also worked with the Walter/Quinter organization. Ryzner allegedly helped break down the heroin and packaged it for street-level distribution.

Corbett said the investigation found that the two organizations competed against each other on both quality of heroin and on price.  He said that heroin users would prefer particular brands of heroin, such as "Red Monkey," and if one organization did not have it they would try and get it from dealers of the other organization.

Among the brand names of heroin that the organizations distributed were Titanic, Never Broke, Impulse, It's Over Man, Rolling Stone, Southern Smoke, VIP, Mercedes Benz, True Reflections and Red Monkey.

Corbett said his drug agents estimate that between the two drug organizations they controlled approximately 75 to 80 percent of all of the heroin sales in the Scranton Wilkes-Barre area. 

Corbett said today's arrests are only the first phase of this investigation and that further arrests will be forthcoming. 

Corbett said, "This investigation demonstrates that gang members from New York City are moving into the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area to corner the drug market. The message we have for the gang members of New York City is clear, if you plan on setting up a drug business in Pennsylvania, also plan on going to prison for a long time."

Corbett said the defendants are scheduled to be arraigned before Scranton Magisterial District Judge Robert Russell and will be prosecuted in Lackawanna County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Robert O'Hara of the Attorney General's Drug Strike Force Section.

Corbett thanked Lackawanna County District Attorney Andrew Jarbola, Luzrene County District Attorney Dave Lupas, the Scranton Police Department, the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police for the assistance in the investigation.

Below is a list of the defendants and the charges against them:

- Ricardo Cruz, 31, 234 Greenbush St., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Christina Cavezza, 27, 234 Greenbush St., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Siburt Walter, 32, New York City, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.
 
- Victor Garcia, 30, 785 Fairmont Place, Bronx, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Sekou Lashley, 27, 547 Kennedy St., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Paulette Sunday, 21, 547 Kennedy St., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Victor Murcia, 27, Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Tori Wilson, 21, 2147 Brick Ave., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Jose Quintero, 23, 114 N. Rebecca Ave., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Aaron Moore, 19, of Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Victor Diaz Jr., 27, 1422 N. Lincoln Ave., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Dorian Spellman, 515 George St., Old Forge, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Jackie Novak, 25, 510 Marion St., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Anthony Guglielmo, 33, 2828 Marvine Ave., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Paul Warrick, 27, 133 Bates Patch Road, Greenfield Twp., is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Michael Bauman, 51, 6 Griffith St., Pittston, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.
 
- John Appnel, 46, 228 Swetland St., Duryea, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.
 
- Danielle McDermott, 25, 32 E. Frothingham St., Pittston, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.
 
- Karen Novak, 45, 210 Ridgewood, Plains, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Lori Detrick, 39, of Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Daniel Halapin, 39, 40 Atherton St., Wyoming, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Thomas Howells, 36, 1121 Lack. Ave., Mayfield, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Cathy Ryzner, 43, 103 S. Everette Ave., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin, accomplice to the manufacture of heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Amy Jones, 30, 1031 Carmalt St., Dickson City, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

- Antuan Been, 21, 2419 S. Webster Ave., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin, possession with intent to manufacture heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.
 
- Kirk Lord, 22, currently incarcerated in the Lackawanna County Jail, is charged with one count of accomplice to the delivery of heroin.

- Amanda Woronekin, 425 Depot St., Scranton, is charged with one count each of participating in corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin, possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal use of a communications facility.

(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

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