JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — Six Chautauqua County residents were taken into police custody Wednesday as part of Operation Bundle Up, a major heroin distribution ring centered in southern Chautauqua County.
Each one faces multiple counts of drug sale and possession charges, and 71-year-old Grant Johnson of Jamestown also faces additional weapons charges.
Agents say they are part of a much larger network stretching as far as Philadelphia and Connecticut, selling at least two to three kilos of heroin a week, with an estimated street value of several hundred thousand dollars.
"When you start talking about this kind of quantity of heroin in Chautauqua County and Cattaraugus County areas, this is huge. I mean, this would be big if you were in a metropolitan area," said Lt. David Bentley of the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force.
The initial Operation Bundle Up round-up took place last March, when drug agents arrested eight people, including the leader of the distribution network, Victor Angueira.
At the time of his arrest, agents seized more than 45 ounces of heroin, an ounce of marijuana, about $260,000 in cash and several weapons.
"Well, you're taking bad people off the streets and hopefully they won't expose young kids and others to dangerous drugs. These are franchise people from a bigger operation, and they're out pushing a very dangerous drug, and a very addictive drug, and people that if they're not available to sell it, people won't be able to buy it as readily," said Sheriff Joe Gerace of Chautauqua County.
Those arrested Wednesday were said to have sold quantities of heroin to undercover drug enforcement officers from several Western New York law enforcement agencies.
"These are lower level offenders; however, when you get those offenders off the street, it makes the community safer, and that's really the most important part of today's operation," added Michelle Spahn, Buffalo DEA Task Force Group Supervisor.
The cases are now in the hands of the Chautauqua County District Attorney. More arrests are expected.