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Five suspected meth dealers busted in early morning raids

meth_presser.jpg

An alleged meth distribution ring with a hub in Le Roy and alleged dealers in Batavia and Rochester was broken up by a region-wide law enforcement effort early this morning.

Five individuals were arrested and now face a federal charge of conspiracy with intent to distribute narcotics.

None of the individuals are suspected of manufacturing methamphetamine.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said at a press conference this afternoon that 75 grams of meth were recovered following the months long investigation that included wiretaps and the use of informants.

Sheriff Gary Maha would only say that the suspected meth was being manufactured "somewhere in the states."

"We're not concerned about there being a major lab out there in Genesee County," Maha said.

mug_donald_vanelli.jpgDonald G. Vanelli, 47, of 8394 Lake St., Le Roy, is suspected of playing a central role in acquisition and distribution of meth.

Vanelli, according to a press release put out late Friday by Hochul's office, is president of the Road Agents Motorcycle Club.

Much of the meth allegedly distributed by the ring was being sold in Batavia and throughout Genesee County, but one suspected dealer lived in Rochester. He is David H. Cohen, 49, of 918 Goodman St.

Also taken into custody were Donna L. Boon (aka Donna Mcauly), 44, of 3658 Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road; Andrew W. Chapman, 40, of 5 Cedar St., Batavia; and Kerry A. Ball, 51, of 7202 Meadville Road, Basom.

“We’ve made a number of significant drug arrests here in Genesee County, but this is pretty significant as far as the distribution of methamphetamine,” Maha said. “We think these people are major, major suppliers here in Genesee County.”

Cohen, Boon, Chapman and Ball were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Rochester this afternoon and released. Federal prosecutors were going to ask that Vanelli be held without bail.

Cohen is accused of obtaining meth in Genesee County and distributing it in Monroe County, as well as sometimes being a conduit to resupply Vanelli.

mug_donna_boone.jpgSearch warrants were executed at the homes of Boon and Vanelli. K-9 units from Orleans and Monore counties were used in the searches.

A 9mm semi-automatic gun, loaded with 10 rounds, was reportedly seized at Vanelli's home.

Authorities believe that Boon would sometimes supply meth to Vanelli for redistribution.

The federal charge carries a minimum five-year prison sentence, with a maximum available sentence of 40 years and a $2 million fine.

The street value of the 75 grams of meth, according to Hochul is about $7,000.

The stiffer federal penalties are exactly why the FBI and U.S. District Attorney's Office were brought into the investigation, according to Maha.

"We said in the beginning (a little less than a year ago when the first alleged meth lab was found in Alabama), we’re not going to tolerate methamphetamine here in Genesee County," Maha said. "So when it’s brought to our attention that people are manufacturing, or that people are distributing, methamphetamine we’re going to go after them as hard as we can."

The investigation is continuing and there may be additional arrests.

"An investigation into any crime isn’t complete until everybody who is responsible for either the trafficking, procurement of any of the substances and finally the financing are identified and prosecuted," Hochul said.

The culmination of "Operation Deep Freeze" began at 3 a.m. with members of the Batavia Police Department rapid response team (SWAT) meeting at the Sheriff's Office before heading out to serve search warrants and arrest the suspects. By 5:30 a.m., investigators from the Sheriff's Office and the FBI were heading into the field to conduct searches on the suspects' residences.

The investigation began, according to Maha, with informants. He shied away from characterizing them as "citizens" or people involved in criminal activity. He said there was no connection between this alleged distribution ring and the five previous alleged meth labs found in the county.

Also participating in the investigation were the Drug Enforcement Administration, State Police and the Le Roy Police Department as well as the Genesee County District Attorney's Office.

mug_david_cohen.jpg  mug_kerry_ball.jpg  mug_andrew_maxwell.jpg
David Cohen  Kerry Ball  Andrew Chapman

Inset photos: top, Vanelli; bottom, Boon.

Kim Grant
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"The federal charge carries a minimum five-year prison sentence, with a maximum available sentence of 40 years and a $2 million fine." What I don't understand is why we don't see some of these sentences being handed to child abusers/molesters, rapists, even murderers in a lot of cases. 40 years for drug distribution? I can't say I disagree with it but you don't see that high of a sentence very often unless it's life in prison.
Janice Stenman
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Kim, I have to agree. Sentences do not seem to fit the crimes. You are right, especially about murderers and child molesters.
jeanne chamberlin
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In my opinion its a pretty sloppy job with the drug task force going after the little guys thats not a job well done at all. There acting as if they caught these big time dealers i think its a joke they are nothing so small time and they aren't concerened about a lab beacuse there isn't one beacuse they are not big bad dealers ;nothing has been acomplished not even a dent into the drug world there talking it up like its big, its nothing ,there nothing.
Gary Spencer
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I have to say some of what Jeanne says is true, although I think the police did a great job and I am glad that these dealers were taken off the streets, 75 grams (valued at $7000) is not a very big bust, like I said I personally think it was great police work and I am grateful they caught these individuals, but now I stop and think if there was 75 grams here how much more is "out there"? I am not aware of any more dealers, labs or distributors, but if I were, I'd call 'em in in a second. I only hope the police continue the good work and keep busting dealers, big and small.
jeanne chamberlin
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These guys arent big distrubuters they distribute amoung themselves there own recreational use and they are going to be used to make example of, they aren't dangerous they aren't harming anyone. and 75 grams that is 750.00, significant ok its a joke.
JoAnne Rock
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George, there is a flaw with your analogy. People that get fired from their jobs usually end up disgruntled and hold no allegiance to their former employer. They wouldn't think twice about becoming a whistleblower if they were privy to information about illegal activities perpetrated by their former employer. In the same respect, these people did not get "fired" from their "jobs". They were arrested as a result of an investigation utilizing wire taps and informants. How much allegiance do you think these little fish will have to the bigger fish when they are facing a 40 year federal prison term? The higer ups may not give a rat's ass about losing 75 grams of meth, but they might just be wondering about what's on those wiretaps, or who is singing like a canary to cut a deal and wishing that there were more than 6 Degrees of Separation.
JoAnne Rock
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Jeanne...are we to assume that you know them all personally, since you are so willing to vouche for their character and proclaim that "they aren't dangerous"? Please, enlighten us as to what good upstanding citizens that they are!
Gabor Deutsch
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I think some people are missing a key point about this bust. It is called the domino effect. You nab five cold handed and they roll over on the bigger fish. That's how you keep 75,000 grams from entering this hot zone. Even if it's a temporary shut down for distribution in this area it's still a win in my book.
paddy horgan
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smartest thing to do was not make it public try to flip them go after the bigger fish and then make it public. but now its public the cook and dealer will lay low.
paddy horgan
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yeah they do, but since all the news they will prolly lay low quickly sell what they can and change there game plan.
Lincoln DeCoursey
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If Vanelli was sourcing meth from another part of the country and using LeRoy as a base to distribute the drug in a wholesale fashion to various dealers in Genesee County and Rochester, I suspect it's not fair to assert that law enforcement is frying little fish here. We can't use the amount of drug seized as a reliable measure of the magnitude of the activity. Any drug trafficker will minimize the quantity of drug in his or her possession so as to limit exposure to theft and legal repercussion. All we can say about the 75 grams is that no less than close to a few hundred individual doses were recovered from this network on just one single morning. Each dose would have produced at minimum a solid hour-long high for some local user. The dollar figure cited might not impress some, but keep in mind first that meth is known to be particularly inexpensive and also that it's known to be particularly brutal. It looks to me as though locally, we've gone from 0 to 60 with this stuff pretty quickly. One would hope that would-be meth makers or peddlers would finally comprehend the zero tolerance message and pack it up for greener pastures. Realistically though, knowing now that demand for this substance in Genesee county is sufficient to support at least multiple dealers, I'm concerned that the local user base is likely quite significant. Rather than worrying too much about letting the little guys walk, I think that a true clean sweep where even the end users are identified and brought in on felony possession charges might be the county's best hope to nip it in the bud. Getting those folks into treatment-based diversion programs might do something to dampen the local demand. Also, if there are still other dealers operating locally, bringing the end consumers in on possession charges might help law enforcement gain insight into the identities of those other dealers.
Andre' Gliwski
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Jeanne, I'm sorry to hear about your brother Kerry getting arrested on those drug charges. I hope your off the drugs too! I hope that you are alright and I hope your not angry with me anymore. I hope everything turns out all right for your brother. Love Andre'
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