Drug Gang Operating in the Lackawanna Housing Project Dismantled
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned two separate indictments charging a total of 20 defendants with engaging in narcotics trafficking in the Gates Housing Project, a housing facility owned and operated by the Lackawanna Municipal Housing Authority.
“Residents of a public housing neighborhood in Lackawanna deserve the same sense of security as residents of a private housing neighborhood in others parts of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “As these defendants will soon learn, by attempting to turn a public housing project into their personal drug trafficking headquarters, they will face increased sentences if convicted.”
“Today’s arrests will have a resounding impact on the Gates housing community residents who already face daily struggles,” said Holly L. Hubert, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Office. “Our Safe Streets Task Force has joined with the Lackawanna Police Department to remove the ‘Project Boys’ gang that perpetrated acts of violence and conducted narcotics trafficking in the resident housing where vulnerable families live. After 10 months of dogged investigation, the citizens of Lackawanna are safer in their community.”
“The City of Lackawanna is a much safer place today because of the cooperative efforts of our officers and our law enforcement partners,” said Lackawanna Police Chief James Michel. “Most of these residents are fine upstanding people looking to live and raise their families in a safe environment. With today’s arrests, this should greatly curtail the distribution of drugs and the violence within this community.”
Charged in the two indictments are:
- Jeffrey Graham, 29, of Buffalo, NY
- Rueben Fears, 31, of Lackawanna, NY
- Craig Eldridge, 25, of Lackawanna, NY
- Terry Williams, 32, of Cheektowaga, NY
- Sharon Thompson, 22, of Lackawanna, NY
- Laron Thompson, 28, of Buffalo, NY
- James Sullivan, 26, of Buffalo, NY
- Charisma Royster, 24, of Buffalo, NY
- Shavon Royal, 20, of Lackawanna, NY
- Reginald Royal, Jr., 22, of Lackawanna, NY
- Charles Rose, 35, of Lackawanna, NY
- Derrick Patterson, 39, of Lackawanna, NY
- Waldemar Pabon, 27, of Buffalo, NY
- Theodore Hines, 29, of Lackawanna, NY
- Laferald Hines, 25, of Tonawanda, NY
- Tarrell Hendrix, 31, of Lackawanna NY
- Thomas Hakeem, 68, of Lackawanna, NY
- Edward Green, 28, of Lackawanna, NY
- Jeanette Knightner, 32, of Buffalo
- Reginald Royal, Sr., 43, of Kenmore, NY
Charges include conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute and distribution of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of public housing property, and possession with intent to distribute and distribution of crack cocaine. The various charges have penalties that include a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward H. White, who is handling the case, during the course of the drug trafficking operation, the defendants are alleged to have conducted open air drug sales in and around the public housing project including hand to hand transactions. This was done in close proximity to playgrounds and recreational areas where children living in the housing project would play.
The Government is also seeking the forfeiture of any property derived from the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.
The indictments are the culmination of an investigation by the Lackawanna Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Michel and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Street’s Task Force, which includes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James S. Higgins, New York Field Division, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero. U.S. Border Patrol, under the direction of Patrol Agent in Charge Tom Pocorobba, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Michael Cerretto, the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Zack, the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Timothy Howard, the Hamburg Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Williams, the Amherst Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Askey, the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda, the Lancaster Police Department, under the direction of Chief Gerald Gill, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police, under the direction of Chief George Gast, and the New York State Department of Correctional Services, under the direction of Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci. Additional assistance was provided by the U.S. Marshall Service, under the direction of Charles Salina and the Tonawanda Police Department, under the direction of Chief Anthony Palombo.
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.