New York Cops Make Fentanyl Bust at Seneca Allegeny Casino

Seneca Allegany Casino Drug Bust

Fentanyl and carfentanil made 2016 the peak year of drug-related deaths in America.

The Seneca Allegany Casino was the site of drug-related arrests over the weekened, as three men with 200 bags of fentanyl and marijuana were arrested in hotel rooms on the premises.

The Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force made the arrests in the Buffalo-area tribal casino. The drug agents executed search warrants in the men’s vehicle and hotel room, both of which were on site at the Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca.

200 Bags of Fentanyl and Marijuana

Authorities discovered 200 bags full of illicit drugs, including fentanyl, unnamed pills, and marijuana. The three men arrested were Angel L. Cabrera, a 25-year old resident of Buffalo; Jose R. Alvarez, a 21-year old who also lives in Buffalo; and Wilfredo Cruz Jr. a 20-year old resident Tonawanda.

Southern Tier officials charged the men with 3rd-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. They also were charged with 3rd degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. Both charges are Class B felonies. Other charges are pending.

Salamanca Police Chief on Fentanyl Epidemic

Salamanca Police Chief Troy Westfall, whose officers were a part of the drug task force, said that the raid probably saved lives. Fentanyl is the main driving force in the latest opioid epidemic, which cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of Canadian lives in the past year.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that between 59,000 to 65,000 Americans died from drug overdose in 2016. It takes time for investigations into drug overdoses, but 2016 is already the peak year of the crisis. Over 54,000 people died from overdose in 2015, but the numbers continue to rise.

“How Many Lives Were Saved?”

Troy Westfall said each of those bags might have been the one which caused a death by overdose. He said, “You don’t know which one of those 200 (bags) should have a skull and crossbones stamped on it. So how many lives were saved, because there’s 200 packages we got and we’re not giving back?”

The fentanyl epidemic raged across the United States in 2015 and 2016, as the US presidential primaries played out. Candidates said they were amazed as the many questions they received about the opioid epidemic in town hall meetings ranging from Ohio to New Hampshire.

The US Opioid Epidemic

Gov. Jeb Bush, a GOP candidate in 2016 and former Governor of Florida, told the New Hampshire Union Leader in early 2016, “The first question I was asked in my first town hall meeting was about the heroin epidemic. And I was like, ‘Really? Tell me about it.'”

The Democrat Party’s candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said of her experience with New Hampshire voters, “I was not prepared to hear from so many about what was happening in the families of New Hampshire.”

New Hampshire is not the only place. Summit County, Ohio has 325 drug overdose deaths in 2016. At three separate times during the year, authorities in the county had to rent refrigerated morgue trailers to store the unexpected bodies, mainly from heroin and painkiller overdoses.

List of Opioid Drugs

Fentanyl is a prescription drug in the United States, grouped among a list of opioid drugs like codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), methadone, Demerol (meperidine), and others. While such drugs are useful when prescribed by a doctor and used responsibly, they are powerful and addictive.

Pain medication addiction is a growing problem in the United States, but the recreational use of opoiods kills thousands of Americans every year. Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin to give users a potent and dangerous high.

“Death by Fentanyl” Documentary

David Harak, a user who spoke with the producers of the Death by Fentanyl documentary, said he would take a prescription drug patch and squeeze the fentanyl into his heroin. Harak said, “You can make your heroin seem so much more explosive.”

Though a certain amount of fentanyl is taken from prescriptions, drug cartels increasingly supply the high. The DEA believes drug dealers in China produce illegal fentanyl, who ship the drug to Mexico to the drug cartels. Once there, the cartels ship the banned fentanyl into the United States, along with more traditional drugs.

Increasingly, the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico has drug labs designed to mix fentanyl with drugs like heroin. This makes it easier for American drug users to get a rare kind of high, as David Harak stated, but it also creates a deadly concoction.

“The Day Carfentanil Hit the Streets of Akron”

As dangerous as heroin is, one opioid is far more dangerous, say Ohio law enforcement officials.

Carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer 5000x more powerful than heroin, is the most powerful opioid. Capt. Michael Shearer, the commander of the Narcotics Unit for the Akron Police Department, said police could notice a dangerous uptick in deaths almost instantly, when cartentanil came to Summit County.

Shearer said, “July 5th, 2016 — that’s the day carfentanil hit the streets of Akron.”

On that one day, 17 people overdosed and one person died. Over the next 6 months, the county medical examiner recorded 140 deaths from carfentanil alone.

Seneca Allegany Casino Drug Bust

The drug bust at the Seneca Allegany Casino happened at 7:24 pm last Thursday. As the three men sat in their vehicle in the casino parking lot, members of the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office, and the Salamanca Police Department approached the men. They found “multiple bags of fentanyl packaged for sale”, along with marijuana and pills.

With that evidence, the law enforcement officials looked at the men’s hotel room. There, they found over 200 bags of fentanyl, marijuana, and pills. Police said the men probably bought the drugs in Buffalo or Rochester, then drove the supply down to Salmanca to make a profit.

Troy Westfall said, “When they bring it down here to these smaller villages and cities, you essentially double your money. It’s economics.”

A casino is a perfect place to sell the drugs, because of the traffic in-and-out of the parking lot. Of course, casinos have a lot of surveillance equipment and security staff, including off-duty police officers. The men’s suspicious activity had been traced and a major drug bust happened.