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Investigation Leads To Takedown Of Hudson Valley Drug Distribution Ring

Orange County Courthouse.
Orange County Courthouse. Photo Credit: File

More than a dozen alleged Hudson Valley gang members and an alleged drug supplier from New Jersey are facing prison time after a major narcotics distribution ring was broken up as part of “Operation Yellow Brick Road.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a 172-count indictment charging 16 members of the “600 Gang” operating in the Hudson Valley, who were allegedly selling heroin and cocaine in Orange County.

Each of the suspects faces up to 25 years in prison.

The bust - which was dubbed “Operation Yellow Brick Road,” partially due to ringleader Damion Jackson’s street name “Toe-Toe," Schneiderman said - came on the heels of a 10-month, multi-agency investigation as the Attorney General’s Office continues its crackdown on heroin and opioid trafficking networks.

When the arrest warrants were being executed, Schneiderman said that an alleged gang member was found flushing large quantities of cocaine down a toilet, causing it to overflow.

During the takedown,  which was led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), in partnership with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), City of Newburgh Police Department (CNPD), Orange County Drug Task Force (OCDTF), Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), authorities recovered:

  • Hundreds of doses of heroin in individual glassines, marked with different brand names;
  • Bulk cocaine used to make thousands of individual doses for resale;
  • One kilogram of methamphetamine;
  • Forty pounds of marijuana;
  • Three handguns;
  • A sawed-off shotgun;
  • A shotgun;
  • At least $36,000 in cash.

According to Schneiderman, the investigation involved physical surveillance and wiretapping, hidden cameras, GPS devises, undercover agents, and cooperating witnesses. The investigation eventually revealed that the defendants allegedly acquired large amounts of narcotics from New York City and Paterson, New Jersey in order to sell them in Newburgh and Orange County, and throughout New York.

Schneiderman said that the gang members obtained a large quantity of cocaine from Kennedy Richards, their supplier in Paterson, N.J., which was brought to Orange County to be sold. Once they obtained the cocaine, they would allegedly adulterate the cocaine with cutting agents such as baking soda to double their profits, or they would “cook” the powder cocaine into crack-cocaine

The charges the gang members are facing include 172 crimes, including conspiracy and various felony counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal sale of a controlled substance. If convicted, they will face a minimum of eight and a half years in prison, or a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Among those charged include:

  • Monique Bentley, a.k.a. “Cola,” of Newburgh;
  • Frederick Blue, a.k.a. “Fredo,” of Newburgh;
  • John Boughton, of Poughkeepsie;
  • Tykwon Burks, a.k.a. “Chop,” of Newburgh;
  • Steve Cohen, a.k.a. “Lonkie” of Newburgh;
  • Adrian Hutchinson, a.k.a. “Travis,” of Newburgh;
  • Andrew Hutchinson, a.k.a. “Jimmy,” of Newburgh;
  • Damion Jackson, a.k.a. “Toe-Toe” of Newburgh;
  • Demetrius Kelly, a.k.a. “Meech,” of Newburgh;
  • Kevin Maldonado, a.k.a. “Kels,” of Newburgh;
  • Kenny Maldonado-Irizarry, a.k.a. “Ken Block” of Newburgh;
  • Kennedy Richards, a.k.a. “Prezzy,” of Paterson, N.J.;
  • Ethan Santana, a.k.a. “Edai,” a.k.a. “L.A.,” of Newburgh;
  • Dwaine Tate, a.k.a. “Devil,” of Newburgh;
  • Dwaine Watson, a.k.a. “Short Boss,” a.k.a “Slash,” of Newburgh.

“This takedown should send an unmistakable message: we won’t let our communities live in fear,” Schneiderman said. “Our investigation uncovered a sophisticated drug trafficking ring that we allege peddled cocaine, heroin, and violence on the streets of Newburgh and throughout New York. The opioid crisis – and the violence that often comes with it – has been catastrophic for small cities and suburban and upstate communities across New York."

“The current epidemic of overdose deaths related to opioid use cries out for operations such as this and collaborative efforts between law enforcement," Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois said in a statement. "The Orange County Drug Task Force and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office remain committed to working with all of law enforcement partners, both state and federal, in combatting the opioid epidemic."

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