by Jon Hand / Democrat and Chronicle (Gannett)
An investigation into an international drug ring culminated in 54 arrests, law enforcement officials announced in Rochester on Monday.
Eight people from Rochester are charged with consipiracy to import and sell methylone, U.S. Attorney William Hochul said at a news conference. Arrests also came in Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Britain, Ireland and Kazakhstan.
Methylone is also known as Molly, the drug involved in a fatal overdose of a Rochester man at a New York City music festival recently. More than 74 kilograms of the drug were recovered as part of what officials are calling Operation Walking Dead.
Hochul said the drugs are made in China and imported. Manufacturing Molly is legal in China.
Investigators learned from an intercepted email that several methylone shipments were being sent to Rochester last month. The packages were found, and contained 3.5 kilograms of methylone crystals.
“Using these drugs is Russian roulette,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Gregory.
(Details of the operation in th U.S.)
Eight Rochester residents arrested as part of international drug ring
WHEC TV News 10 in Rochester, N.Y.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says it has broken up the biggest synthetic drug ring in Rochester involving “Molly.” Eight people, all from the Rochester area have been arrested and are facing charges Monday. They range in age from 18-years-old to 28-years-old. We are told Joshua Buerman, 25, 21-year-old Michele Hess, 21-year-old Kevin Willard, 28-year-old Andrew Bosch, 21-year-old Madhu Ashok, 23-year-old Lance Minielly, 20-year-old Jesse James Macaveny, and 18-year-old Rita Levy Panzica are facing charges.
The U.S. Attorney says Joshua Buerman was the ring leader and the group is responsible for putting millions of dangerous pills on local streets and marketing them to high school and college students.
The U.S. Attorney says all of these drugs came from China where they are legal to make. Agents tracked email between the supplier in China and the so-called ring leader in Rochester. In one of the emails, the U.S. Attorney says the supplier included the tracking number of the package the drugs were in.
So agents intercepted the package, tested it for methylone and then did what they called a controlled delivery to several homes in Rochester, Webster and Wayne County. From there, the U.S. Attorney says the members of the ring multiplied the size of their stash by mixing it with other chemicals and then either put the drug in capsules or sold it as a powder to be mixed in drinks. Their targets were high school and college students at raves and parties.
Doug Gregory, Assistant U.S. Attorney, said, “It’s really Russian roulette. You may have experienced a good high, five or six times. But I’m here to tell you it only takes one time for you to get a bad batch of this methylone and you’ll end up in the hospital or worse yet, the morgue.
All eight defendants were arraigned Monday afternoon including 20-year-old Jesse James Macaveny. Many of the defendants are under house arrest until they go back to court Wednesday morning. Macaveny left court with his dad who says he son is innocent.
Jesse Macaveny, father of defendant, said, “He’s totally innocent. I don’t recognize any of the kids. I’ve never seen them. I know all his kids. He’s a good kid. He’s going to MCC. And he’s got wrapped up with something. He’s innocent. He’ll be let off.”
News10NBC’s Berkeley Brean said, “Why do you think they got him wrangled up in this thing?”
Macaveny said, “He knows one kid through an email or a phone call or whatever. But we’ll find out and it’ll play out in court.”
The young man identified as the leader of this group of eight is Joshua Buerman. He is still in custody.
“Molly” is the so-called party drug that killed Jeffrey Russ, a young man from Greece. He died from an overdose of “Molly” at a concert in New York City.