Police are calling it the largest cocaine bust in the Rochester area in fifteen years. Thirty-five kilos of cocaine was confiscated, and more than two dozen people were arrested.
The raids began before sunrise Wednesday, at several locations in Rochester, as well as New York City and Florida. Authorities say they've shut down a cocaine trafficking ring which brought more than $1 million worth of the drug to the Rochester area monthly.
The bust was announced at the Rochester office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. A pile of cocaine, guns and cash was stacked on a table as law enforcement surrounded New York's top prosecutor, who explained how the cleverly-dubbed "Operation Snowbird" went down.
“This was a very sophisticated operation, transporting large quantities of drugs in sealed compartments over very long distances,” said Schneiderman.
Five cars confiscated by police had cut -out hidden compartments, where drugs were stashed. 28 people were arrested or indicted. Investigators say the ring leader, Estanislao Martinez of Rochester would tap his connections in New York City and Florida.
According to police, drug runners would bring the cocaine into Rochester to different spots, where it would then be distributed throughout the city.
“So much of what you see on this table is the root cause of the violence we see in our urban environments,” said Rochester Police Chief Jim Sheppard.
The Attorney General's office will prosecute Martinez, who could face 15 years to life in prison for his arrest under the state's drug kingpin law.