Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty to Gun Charge Involving a Homicide
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Jose L. Ramirez-Merced, 30, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to discharge of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking which caused the death of a person before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas S. Duszkiewicz, who is handling the case, stated that in June 2012, Merced, co-defendant Alexander Duarte and others sold heroin on the West Side of Buffalo. On July 15, 2012, the group planned a home invasion robbery targeting the residence of heroin dealer Jose Rivera. However, the defendants and others invaded the wrong residence and stole cocaine and cash.
As a result, Jose Rivera began making threats against individuals in the group and attempted to kill one of the individuals known as L.B. In response, the group decided to murder Rivera. On July 31, 2012, Merced, co-defendant Alexander Duarte retrieved a gun and proceeded to a residence on West Avenue in Buffalo where they opened fire, killing Rivera and wounding a female.
“The acts perpetrated in this case demonstrate yet again why we continue to relentlessly pursue drug traffickers and the violence that almost always follows,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul.
Charges are pending against Alexander Duarte. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda. The task force includes representatives of the Amherst Police Department; the Buffalo Police Department; U.S. Border Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Cheektowaga Police Department; the Erie County Sheriff’s Department; the Hamburg Police Department; the Lancaster Police Department; the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police; the New York State Department of Correctional Services; the New York State Police; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.
Sentencing is scheduled for February 24, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.