By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
Twelve individuals were charged early Tuesday morning after a drug bust in the city of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Police Chief Gregory Culick said at a press conference Tuesday the Amsterdam Police Department, in conjunction with other local, state, and federal agencies, executed five search warrants and 11 arrest warrants at various locations in the city.
The search warrants were executed at the first floor of 68 Arnold Ave., 70 Arnold Ave., the first floor of 83 Academy St., the second floor of 24 Dewitt St., and the left side of 2 Harrison Ave., all within the city.
"During the service of the warrants, a quantity of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, two stolen handguns, U.S. currency, and several vehicles, along with various drug paraphernalia, was seized from the five locations," Culick said.
Peter W. Santos, 22, of 68 Arnold Ave., 1st floor, was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal sale of marijuana, and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all felonies.
Ricardo Aponte, 30, who is currently incarcerated in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, all felonies.
According to police, Aponte possessed both stolen handguns and has been previously convicted of a crime.
Justin Crawford, 26, of 24 Dewitt St., second floor, was charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a felony, and sixth-degree conspiracy, a misdemeanor.
David Canales, 33, of 83 Academy St., 1st floor, was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a felony.
Peter D. Santos, 55, of 68 Arnold Ave., 1st floor, was charged with fifth-degree conspiracy, a misdemeanor.
Jacqueline Santos, 49, of 68 Arnold Ave., 1st floor; Christina Santos, 19, of 68 Arnold Ave., 1st floor; Angela Santos, 21, of 70 Arnold Ave.; Raul Baez, 24, of 70 Arnold Ave.; Carlos Vega-Carbonell, 30, 48 Jay St., 1st floor; Steven Carrero, 23, of 42 Mathias Ave., Apartment 1; and Walter Albino, 24, of 7 Willard St., 1st floor, were all arrested and charged with sixth-degree conspiracy, a misdemeanor.
Amsterdam Police Department Det. Lt. Kurt Conroy said that because of the quantity of search warrants that were being conducted at one time on one day, the department enlisted the help of the New York State Police, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Schenectady Police Department.
"It takes a great of coordination and cooperation. The city of Amsterdam is not large enough with our staffing and the size of our force to do these investigations on our own, and that's why without the cooperation of some of these other agencies, we wouldn't have been able to do something of this magnitude," he said.
More than a pound of marijuana, a couple bundles of heroin, and more than an eight-ball of cocaine were seized, Conroy said, adding up to a street value of about a couple thousand dollars.
As for the handguns, Conroy said they were both stolen.
"One was actually stolen from the city of Amsterdam, a burglary that we had been investigating. That was a .44 magnum revolver, loaded," he said. "And the second firearm was a .25 semi-automatic that was also loaded that was stolen from a jurisdiction in Florida several years ago."
The arrests come after a five-month-long investigation by the department and fellow agencies.
Culick said he approached Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane about reports of gang activity back in July. Thane said at the press conference that it's important for community members to understand that the city is aware of the issues.
"We are going to stay in front of what's going on (and) keep our constituency safe," Thane said.
During the investigation, Conroy said, the department developed information within the city, identified targets, and began conducting surveillance investigations with other agencies.
Some of the individuals arrested, Conroy said, were associated with the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation gang and were involved in both dealing and using drugs.
"We have a mixture of both those street-level and mid-level dealers," he said.
Conroy said they have reason to believe that several of the individuals were acting in concert with one another, and five of the individuals were actually a mother, father, and three children.
"Most of them have been residents for at least several years in the city of Amsterdam," he said. "Some do have criminal histories."
Maj. Wayne Olson, of the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team for the New York State Police, said the state police work these types of investigation across the state and it isn't the first time they have worked with the Amsterdam Police Department.
"We are pretty confident that given everybody's effort and everybody's dedication that we'll continue cases like this and we'll take these threats off the street," Olson said.
Other arrests should be wrapped up over the next couple of days, Conroy said, but did not release names.