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March 3, 2013

6 arrested in 2-year heroin probe

A “significant investigation” has led to the arrest of six New York City and Otsego County residents during the past three months on charges linked to heroin trafficking, Otsego County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. said Friday.

The two-year investigation, called Operation Dial Tone, was a joint effort among the sheriff’s office, the Albany office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Oneonta Police Department and county District Attorney John Muehl.

The first arrests were made Dec. 7, after deputies stopped a car driven by Daniel P. Parrotte, 24, of Mount Upton, for an equipment violation. Two other men, Eric Doherty, 22, of Unadilla, and Azar K. Hughes 24, of Oneonta, were with Parrotte, authorities said.

The deputies questioned the men about their movements, and none of them admitted having visited New York City, Devlin said in a press release. But Deputy Keith Sheldon noticed city parking tickets on the dashboard, Devlin said. And Deputy Michael Stalter saw a syringe in the inside door handle, he said.

Sheldon and Stalter then decided to search the car, he said. Sheldon’s K-9 dog zeroed in on a gaming console and baseball cap that were in the backseat where Hughes had been sitting, Devlin said.

Assisted by DEA agents and Oneonta police offices, they found 209 packets of heroin, valued at $8,180, in the gaming console and a small quantity of crack cocaine in the baseball cap, deputies said.

All three were arrested for third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree conspiracy, both felonies, Devlin said. Doherty also was charged with criminal possession a hypodermic instrument, and Hughes was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

They were arraigned the next day and remanded to the Otsego County jail on $25,000 bail. Each faces up to nine years in prison if convicted, deputies said.

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