With heroin deaths increasing by 174% in the New York area in recent years, law enforcement agencies are focusing their efforts on cutting off the distribution channels for this deadly drug. The DEA worked with state and local law enforcement agencies for two years to take down a large scale heroin trafficking ring that was based in Buffalo.
Headed by Daniel Molina-Rios, these traffickers started bringing heroin up from New York City in approximately 2014 and used a system of runners to distribute up to 1,000 heroin glassines a day.
The New York Division of the DEA and US Attorney William Jl. Hochul, Jr., of New York’s Western District announced on June 18, 2015 that a federal grand jury handed down an indictment against these Buffalo heroin traffickers.
Formal charges include distribution and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. Daniel Molina-Rios, Orlando Rios, Luis Montanez, and Jose Andujar all face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
These charges take place in the backdrop of a climate of grave concern about heroin and opioid addiction in New York State. Governor Cuomo signed legislation in June 2014 that addressed the problem from a number of angles ranging from improving treatment options to strengthening penalties for drug distribution in the state.
While heroin abuse is a widespread national problem, it is particularly acute in Erie County. The number of treatment admissions for heroin and prescription opioid addiction increased 123% between 2004 and 2013 in Erie County according to the New York State Governor’s website. The problem is particularly acute among young users:
- Ages 25-34: 227% increase
- Ages 18-24: 251% increase
The dismantling of the Molina-Rios organization should deal a blow to the heroin trade in Buffalo and throughout Erie County, and hopefully these trends will start reversing.