ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Detectives with the Albany Police Department identified and tracked down several high-profile individuals, who were allegedly selling narcotics in the streets of Albany and across the Capital Region.
Fifteen people were taken into custody on Wednesday and arraigned in Albany County Court. Many of them now face a slew of charges, including Conspiracy and Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance.
Albany police spokesman, Steve Smith, said the year-long investigation was sparked when members of their Community Response Unit started taking a closer look at some of the individuals involved in the city’s violence last year.
“As they were conducting those investigations into those individuals, they learned that there was a nexus involving narcotics,” said Smith.
Peeling back the layers, Smith said they discovered a large drug ring. According to the 65-count indictment, these drugs were being flown in from Las Vegas to Albany, NY.
Steve Smith said they were concealed in checked luggage on passenger airlines.
“Once the narcotics got back to Albany, they were distributing it throughout the area,” said Smith.
Prosecutors said there were several trips made between August and November 2019. Smith said the suspects were smuggling several pounds of cocaine at a time.
“It all depends on the incident, but a couple kilos at least,” said Smith.
NEWS10 ABC questioned how these drugs could continuously go undetected. According to the TSA’s website, they’re not necessarily looking for illegal drugs.
A statement from the website reads: “TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
“Drugs have a way of making their way into every community. We just do our best to determine how it’s getting here and how we can combat that issue,” said Smith.
Smith said this investigation was successful through a collaboration of resources.
“These types of investigations require a lot of resources that local municipalities may not necessarily have, so it’s imperative that we work with our federal partners at the FBI, the DEA, and other agencies as well as at the county level to ensure that we can investigate thoroughly and hold individuals accountable.”
Smith said the suspects were located and arrested in cities across the Capital Region. The FBI assisted with the take down, but none of them are facing federal charges.
At least four were released on their own recognizance under the new bail reform.
Smith said the investigation is not over, and more arrests are possible.
An additional suspect is expected to turn himself in on Monday.