A massive 217-count indictment named 31 people in the Finger Lakes, and according to many state officials — could have taken a serious amount of heroin off the streets.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the indictment on Wednesday, which included New York, Bronx, Queens, Schuyler, Tioga and Tompkins counties.
“Today’s arrests should send the message to those terrorizing and dealing death in our communities: We will find you and prosecute you,” Schneiderman said. “This epidemic has shattered families and taken far too many lives already, and I am committed to doing everything in my power to hold those responsible accountable.”
The investigation spanned five months and took on a drug network allegedly contributing to the distribution of heroin throughout the region.
Arthur “Wise” Erskine, 40, of Ithaca played a major role in the network, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Authorities say Erskine touted himself as a “music promoter.” He owned several homes in the Ithaca area, and traveled between New York City and Ithaca – buying the heroin from a source there.
Aylah “Boogz” Stewart-Boda, 25, who is the mother of Erskine’s children was a key figure in the entire network, according to the Attorney General.
Prosecutors say that Stewart enlisted members of her family to traffic the heroin. Her mother was even one of the individuals distributing heroin in Ithaca, according to those officials.
The particular batch of heroin, which contributed to a rash of overdoses in Tompkins and Tioga counties — came from Jose Polanco, 38, of New York, who was arraigned on charges in the massive bust.
The heroin was laced with Fentanyl.
“Opioid use is a major problem in Ithaca and Tompkins County, with overdoses an almost daily occurrence, and unnecessary deaths all too frequent,” said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick.
He added, “I am hopeful that this will slow the flow of drugs and save lives in the immediate term. We are committed to a four-pillar strategy that includes, as we saw today, law enforcement. In the coming months and years, we must continue our focus on all four pillars, especially prevention, treatment and harm reduction.”
Other charged included Joseph Besemer, 34, of Newfield; Shaylee Bisgrove, 24, of Ithaca; Corey Bond, 31, of Ithaca; Stormie Coyne, 39, Ithaca; Katie Crapo, 28, of Odessa; Michael Dawson, 26, of Willseyville; Erica Farrell, 32, of Candor; Dioremi Feliz, 36, of New York; Brittany Ford, 28, of Bronx; Shanakia Gray, 34, of Newfield; Yvette King, 40, of Lansing; Zavierus King, 22, of Lansing; Johnny Lee, 37, of Ithaca; Angelo LeGrande, 42, of Ithaca; Jerica Luoma, 28, of Ithaca; Eric MacDonald, 32, of Candor; Dustin Myers, 29, of Ithaca; Devon Rose, 19, of Willseyville; Branden Schmeltz, 22, of Spencer; Nicole Spence, 43, Ithaca; Brandon Stone, 26, of Candor; Savanna Washington, 26, of Candor; Justin Westbrook, 25, of Spencer; and Joseph White, 26, of Cortland.