MAYVILLE - More than 20 individuals allegedly involved in a massive drug distribution network that funneled heroin into Jamestown are set to appear in court early next year.
On Monday at Chautauqua County Court, Judge Richard C. Kloch, of Niagara County, presided over the arraignment of 34 defendants busted last month in a multi-jurisdictional sting operation - code-named "Operation Horseback" - that netted 41 local individuals allegedly involved in heroin trafficking.
One by one, the defendants along with their attorneys appeared before Kloch and received the dates of their pre-trial hearings and trials.
All defendants were scheduled a pre-trial hearing for Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. at the county court.
Trial dates ranged from January to March of 2015.
According to Public Defender Nathaniel Barone, the defendants, who were all included in the same 159-count indictment, would benefit from having separate trials.
"For constitutional reasons, there's a number of issues that would force a defendant to be severed from the others for trial purposes," Barone said. "You don't want to be sitting in trial with 45 other co-defendants all accused of a conspiracy ... just the appearance of them all together would imply a conspiracy. So constitutionally, (a group trial) would deny a person a fair trial."
Barone further indicated that many defendants will likely not need a trial at all.
"I would imagine most of these individuals will either plead out ... or there will be some type of motion to dismiss certain people," he said. "By the time it gets to the actual trial date, not many will be going to trial."
The following defendants were scheduled a Jan. 6 trial:
Alberto Alicea; age 54, Brooklyn
Bryan Bobe; age 25, Jamestown
Christopher Freeney; age 43, Jamestown
Roberto Morales-Sanchez, a/k/a "Pichulin"; age 45, Jamestown
LaShawn Paige; age 42, Binghamton
The following defendants were scheduled a Jan. 13 trial:
Neftali Benitez, a/k/a "Tego"; age 33, Jamestown
Jesus Javier Suarez; age 44, Jamestown
Eric M. Lundsten; age 29, Ellington
Luis Lozada Berberena, a/k/a "Wiso"; age 40, Jamestown
Francisco Guzman Gonzalez; age 46, Jamestown
The following defendants were scheduled a Jan. 20 trial:
Randall Rolison; age 51, Jamestown
Charles Brown, a/k/a "Choco Loco"; age 42, Falconer
Samantha DiLallo; age 26, Randolph
The following defendants were scheduled a Jan. 27 trial:
Carlos Echiaverria, a/k/a "Boobie"; age 31, Jamestown
Jose Guevara, a/k/a "Pun"; age 29, Jamestown
Joshua Van Ord; age 20, Lakewood
Olga Santiago; age 49, Jamestown
The following defendant was scheduled a Feb. 3 trial:
Rolando Garcia; age 50, Jamestown
The following defendants were scheduled a Feb. 24 trial:
Michael Lisciandro, a/k/a "Dougie"; age 23, Jamestown
Doris Ramos; age 25, Jamestown
Frank Orazio; age 24, Cassadaga
Alfredo Diaz, a/k/a "Ding Dong"; age 51, Jamestown
The following defendant was scheduled a March 10 trial:
James Torres, a/k/a "BK"; age 42, Jamestown
The following defendants had their arraignment postponed because they or their attorney did not show up to court, or because of other legal issues:
Roberto Figueredo, a/k/a "Bost"; age 25
Angelita Guzman, a/k/a "Michelle"; age 28, Jamestown
John Grilla; age 28, Jamestown
Hector Colon Rodriguez , a/k/a "Chino"; age 40, Jamestown
Hector Cameron, a/k/a "Loco"; age 31, Jamestown
Carlos Encarnacion; age 59, Jamestown
Jonathan Ribbing; age 27, Lakewood
Walter Westerdahl age 33, Jamestown
Edwin Velasquez; age 53, Falconer
Eddie Robles, a/k/a "Nelson"; age 49, Jamestown
Stephen Bush; age 33, Jamestown
"Operation Horseback" included several raids which were conducted simultaneously by agents of the Attorney General's Office, the New York State Police Department, the Jamestown Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Border Patrol. The arrests were made as part of a 159-count indictment unsealed on July 30 in Chautauqua County Supreme Court, in which 47 individuals were identified in affiliation with a massive drug-trafficking ring.
The investigation began slightly more than a year ago following a noticeable increase in drug-related crime, such as larceny and burglary, in Jamestown. Over the course of the investigation, a series of drug pipelines were discovered to be funneling heroin into the city from Buffalo, Philadelphia and New York City's Washington Heights. Following the execution of "Operation Horseback," more than 3,000 baggies of heroin with an estimated street value of $60,000, all intended for distribution in Jamestown, were seized.