After a months-long investigation into an alleged drug ring in Saratoga County, authorities have arrested six people and seized a large supply of cash and illegal narcotics. Matt Hunter reports.
BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – Six months after being tipped off, law enforcement leaders announced on Monday the results of their investigation into an alleged drug ring with roots in Saratoga County.
"This is one of the largest cases I have ever seen in my 25-year career,” Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen said.
"The arrests and seizures in this case have made a major dent in drug trafficking that occurs in Saratoga County,” said Sheriff Michael Zurlo, whose agency is leading the ongoing investigation.
Joined by partners from the New York State Police and DEA, Zurlo said members of his agency’s narcotics unit went undercover to complete numerous controlled sales of cocaine from the suspects in recent months. After seven search warrants were carried out earlier this month -- including one at the Route 32 property in Schuylerville owned by the alleged ringleader, 64-year-old Dennis Jones -- six people were arrested and a massive supply of drugs was confiscated.
Zurlo listed everything confiscated: "Eighteen long guns, two pistols, 2.5 kilos of cocaine with a street value of $250,000, 20 pounds of packaged marijuana with a street value of $40,000, five vehicles and more than $264,000 in U.S. currency."
"The individuals charged in this case had no regard for the damage caused through the distribution of these illegal narcotics or the danger they pose to our communities,” said Greg Thomas, a captain with the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET).
State troopers and DEA agents were brought in once it was discovered the operation extended out of Saratoga County. The arrests come as the region continues to battle a years-long heroin and opioid epidemic, but Zurlo says no opiates were involved in this case.
"Due to the unfortunate overdoses we are seeing with heroin, everybody is hyper-focused on enforcement and education on that,” said David Zon, the special agent in charge of the DEA’s Albany field office. "Unfortunately, we still have, behind the scenes, a cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana drug problem still going on."
The sheriff declined to say what tipped his officers off to the alleged activity in the first place, or if parts of the drug ring remain intact, but officials are calling the arrests a major victory in their fight against illegal drug use and trafficking.
"This is not a place where you are going to come and sell drugs and not be held accountable and responsible,” Heggen said.
"As long as there are drug dealers in the county preying on our residents, we will continue to make these arrests,” Zurlo said.
Zurlo says the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected. Heggen added her office will likely hold off on presenting the case to a grand jury until the investigation is complete and all arrests have been made.