In Hamburg, a round of seven arrests for drug activity in one day marked new ground for law enforcement.
“The number of people involved was unusual,” said Gregory G. Wickett, police chief in the Town of Hamburg, after a news conference late Wednesday on the grounds of Town Hall.
“I can’t remember another time we arrested seven people in one day, for selling cocaine,” said Wickett, who has been on the town police force almost 29 years.
The seven people were arrested Friday, culminating a joint effort of town law enforcement and others centered on drug trafficking in the Southtowns, particularly Hamburg.
Hamburg Supervisor Steven J. Walters said the town is handling situations similar to other communities.
“Unfortunately, Hamburg is not unique. It’s no different than a lot of the other towns,” he said. “We’re not immune to the scourge of the drug problem.”
Several individuals have been arraigned in Erie County Court, accused of distributing cocaine, heroin and other narcotics.
Nearly 50 overdose deaths have been reported this year in the southern part of the county, officials said.
Four of the people were running a cocaine operation from 67 Long Ave. in the village of Hamburg, according to the indictment.
Charged with varying numbers of counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance were:
• Aaron Carroll, 25, faces accusations of sales of cocaine to police officers at five occasions dating back to last October, according to material on the indictment provided by the district attorney’s office.
• Nicholas Hubble, 25, has been accused of cocaine sales to law enforcement twice, in October.
• Joshua Taylor, 25, was charged in connection with a January sale of cocaine to a police officer.
• Kelly Hosken, 24, was charged in connection with an October sale of cocaine to an officer.
Also indicted were three others, on counts of the same charges:
• Bradley Draudt, 35, of Hamburg, has been accused of selling cocaine to a police officer in the bathroom of a Hamburg business in 2014.
• Merneptah Sealy, 33, of Buffalo, has been charged with selling crack to an officer in a parking lot in the town in October.
• Devin Ford, 24, of Lackawanna, was charged with selling cocaine to a police officer in September. .
The six men and one woman have all been scheduled to appear in town court.
Investigators made 12 buys of cocaine, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. stated that the arrests came in the wake of investigations by the Town of Hamburg Police Department’s Narcotics Unit, the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Unit and the City of Lackawanna Police Department’s Narcotics Unit.
Walters, the Hamburg supervisor, said that within the past couple of years, the town and village have started collaborating on a narcotics-focused coalition intended to aid people in keeping away from drugs.
He called the organization, which is led by the youth department, “a fairly new thing that was put together.”
According to Wickett, the Hamburg chief of police, the complaints and tips that officers get are helpful in tackling situations like these.
“It’s never a bother to us,” Wickett said about responding to these sorts of matters.
“We investigate every complaint that we get,” the chief said.
Walters said that the scope of the seven arrests at the same time was a bit surprising.
He said that the Southtowns deal with many of the same issues as places elsewhere.
“The Southtowns – we’re a great community,” he said. “This is certainly not unique, unfortunately.”