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July 10, 2013

Another arrest made in drug ring

Heroin investigations in Otsego continue

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Another operator in in a drug-trafficking ring has been arrested, Otsego County deputies said Tuesday, and efforts continue to halt heroin sales in the area.

Alexander Vega, 22, of the Bronx, was charged July 1 on a sealed indictment with two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a felony, deputies said.

Vega’s arrest in Operation Dial Tone was announced in a media release issued Tuesday by Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr., Brian Crowell, special agent in charge of the state division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor and Otsego County District Attorney John M. Muehl.

Vega is accused of selling heroin in the city of Oneonta in August and September 2011. Deputies said Vega was part of heroin trafficking originating in the Bronx and stemming into Otsego County.

Operation Dial Tone, a joint narcotics investigation into the heroin distribution from the Bronx, started about 2 ½ years ago, and deputies said a dozen or more arrests have resulted.

“They’re very time-consuming, these arrests,” Devlin said.

More arrests are expected in the joint investigation, conducted by the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division, the Albany District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Oneonta Police Department Detective Bureau and Otsego County District Attorney’s Office.

The heroin drug trafficking organization was run by convicted felon Jose A. “Flip” Rodriguez, formerly of the Bronx, who is serving a 40-year sentence, imposed by Otsego County Court, in the Five Points Correctional Facility in Seneca County, for operating as a major trafficker. He was sentenced in December 2011.

“We certainly put a dent in the drug traffic trade in Otsego County,” Devlin said. However, drug issues remain in the county, he said, and Operation Dial Tone continues investigations.

Heroin continues to be in demand “across the board” without boundaries of social sector, occupation or profession, Devlin said. Demand and use are reflected by not only arrests but also emergency medical calls and hospital visits, he said.

“It’s a very addictive drug,” Devlin said.

Vega, who is incarcerated at the Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility in Essex County, was brought by state Department of Correctional Services to Otsego County Court, where he was arrested by investigators on the sealed indictment warrant, the release said.

Vega was arraigned before County Court Judge John F. Lambert, who set bail at $25,000, the release said. Vega was returned to DOCS custody and is scheduled to return to the Otsego court on July 22.

According to the state Department of Corrections website, Vega was convicted of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance in Bronx County, sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison and sent to the Moriah facility in February.

If convicted of the drug sales in Otsego County, Vega faces up to another 24 years in prison, the release said.