Three suspected drug dealers face organized crime charges in connection with alleged drug trafficking between New York City and the Oneonta area.
Steven A. English Jr., 24, of Brooklyn, Mark Anthony Santiago, 30, of Long Island and Broward County, Fla., and Luis V. Cabrera Jr., 19, of Brooklyn, were indicted last month by an Otsego County grand jury on enterprise corruption and various felony drug charges.
English has been in custody since June 4 on other drug charges. Santiago was arrested after a traffic stop in Oneonta and he and English, who had been in Otsego County jail since June 4, were arrested on sealed indictment warrants, according to a media release from deputies issued Wednesday.
Cabrera was caught by deputies and Cooperstown police after a foot chase Tuesday afternoon that started on Chestnut Street in Cooperstown and ended on Linden Avenue in the town of Otsego, deputies said. He was also charged under a sealed indictment warrant.
The Otsego County Sheriff's Department Investigation Division and the Oneonta Police Department Detective Bureau conducted the investigation.
The crime of enterprise corruption, which was established by the state Legislature in 1986 to fight organized crime, is a class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said it is rare to see this particular charge lodged against a defendant in upstate New York.
But in this situation, it fits, he said.
"You have to have individuals that are acting together in an organized nature to pursue a criminal enterprise," Muehl said.
In this case, the alleged criminal enterprise was dealing in crack cocaine and heroin. During the 10-month investigation, $10,068 in cash was seized, as well as more than 10 ounces of crack cocaine valued at $28,000. One hundred bundles of heroin valued at $2,000 were also taken off the street, according to deputies.
"These are people who set up shop and dealt to local people," said Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr.
In addition to the enterprise corruption charges, the defendants face the following charges under the indictments:
ä English, two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance related to alleged crack sales Jan. 2 and 25 in the city of Oneonta. English was also charged with two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after drugs and cash were allegedly found in his backpack near the Oneonta bus station June 4.
ä Santiago, three counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance related to alleged crack sales Feb. 24 in the town of Oneonta.
ä Cabrera, three counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance related to alleged crack sales Jan. 12 and 16 and Feb. 7 in the city of Oneonta.
Muehl said the trio had structure and a hierarchy, but he declined to indicate which one of the three may have been the leader.
The investigation is continuing and other arrests are expected, deputies said.
Oneonta is attractive to drug dealers because it is close to New York City, has two colleges and there is a fairly large demand for drugs, Muehl said.
The demand comes from local residents and the college crowd, Devlin said.
A confidential informant used by police during the investigation has informed law enforcement that crack has become less available in the city since the arrests, said a source close to the investigation who requested anonymity. But Devlin said vacuums in the drug trade don't last long.
"These people will be replaced by other people, but we are trying to send a message that we aren't going to tolerate it," Devlin said. The drug trade leads to other problems in Otsego County, including burglaries, larcenies and drug addiction, he said.
The Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, state police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, state Division of Parole, New York City Police Department's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area unit, New Jersey State Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Department and the Otsego County District Attorney's Office assisted with the case.
All three suspects are in Otsego County jail on $100,000 bail awaiting further court action. They each face up to 52 years in prison on all the charges if convicted, deputies said.