Five Defendants Indicted in One of the Nation’s Largest Fentanyl Seizures
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a an indictment charging Herman E. Aguirre, 41, of Brea, CA, Troy R. Gillon, 41, of Lockport, NY, Darryl J. Williams, 43, of Williamsville, NY, Maulana Lucas, 41, Niagara Falls, NY, and Shirley Grigsby, 40, Buffalo, NY, with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine and possession with intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum life, and a $20,000,000 fine.
“In this time of heightened concern regarding multiple overdose deaths in our community, the seizure of a trifecta of dangerous and potentially deadly drugs—cocaine, heroin and fentanyl—is both highly significant and extremely good news for our area,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Our law enforcement partners are working aggressively to track down these traffickers who are bringing nothing but danger and in too many cases death to the streets of our neighborhood.”
“In a broad sense, these arrests give the public a good idea how poly-drug trafficking organizations are being tracked down by law enforcement,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt. “We are not only targeting the very top of the drug hierarchy who disseminate large quantities of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl but we are also focused on the distributors throughout the country. We not only want to seize as much of this poison as we can, but in this case we are also snatching away their drug proceeds, crippling these organizations financially. Our efforts are centered on targeting these drug entities who are trafficking multiple addictive drugs, dismantle them on all levels and continue our fight against addiction to powerful drugs.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Catherine Baumgarten, who is handling the case, stated according to the indictment, between June 2013 and July 29, 2015, the defendants conspired to possess and distribute heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine in Western New York, primarily Lockport and Niagara Falls.
During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers in Western New York, California and Nebraska seized a total of 40 kilograms of cocaine, 17 kilograms of heroin and eight kilograms of fentanyl. The seized fentanyl alone represents one of the largest seizures of fentanyl ever in the United States. In addition, law enforcement tracked $13,000,000 in cash flowing from an area bank to California.
According to information provided in Court, the investigation began in March 2014. Defendants Gillon and Williams received large quantities of narcotics from Herman Aguirre’s “seafood” warehouse in Montebello, California and then distributed the drugs to others in the Western New York area including Trent Adair Hamilton and Michael Paul Mitchell. Hamilton and Mitchell were arrested in connection with this case in March 2015. The defendants are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin. Hamilton is also charged with possession with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin. Mitchell is facing an additional charge of possession with intent to distribute and to distribute crack cocaine.
According to a complaint filed earlier in the case against defendants Lucas and Grigsby, on March 23, 2015, Buffalo Police received a call regarding a family dispute at 98 Folger St. After they arrived, officers received written consent to search the residence and found three duffle bags which contained approximately eight kilograms of fentanyl and 24 kilograms of cocaine.
The 32 kilograms of drugs seized at 98 Folger Street were submitted to the Erie County Central Police Services for analysis. A chemical analysis of the substance inside the first kilogram was determined to be pure fentanyl, which is extremely dangerous, if not fatal, if ingested. As a result, the analysis of the drugs was suspended due to the danger of ingestion of airborne fentanyl. The investigation was thereafter completed in a federal laboratory.
Defendants Grigsby, Lucas, Gillon and Williams have been arraigned and are being detained. Herman Aguirre was arrested in California and is being held pending further proceedings. Trent Hamilton is being held, Michael Mitchell was released on conditions.
Today’s indictment is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Office, the DEA Los Angeles Field Division, the Niagara County Drug Task Force and Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff James Voutour, the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Michael Violante, the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Frank Sedita, the Erie County Central Police Services Forensic Laboratory, under the direction of John Simich, the Lockport Police Department, under the direction of Chief Lawrence Eggert, the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the direction of Chief Bryan DalPorto, the Town of Tonawanda Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jerome Uschold, the New York State Office of the Attorney General, New York State Parole, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Shantelle P. Kitchen, Special Agent in Charge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of J. Michael Kennedy, Acting Special Agent in Charge, the Federal Bureay of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Delano A. Reid, New York Field Division, and Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine, under the direction of Brian Manaher, Director, Marine Operations.
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.