LOCKPORT - A heroin sales ring allegedly broken up by Niagara Falls police this week was selling $5,000 to $10,000 worth of the drug per day, Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto said Thursday.
The sales were only in Niagara Falls, Assistant District Attorney Peter M. Wydysh said, but they weren't concentrated in any particular part of the city.
"The information we had, these guys were selling all over the place," Wydysh said. "All told, these guys were making hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Wydysh said a single dose of heroin in a small plastic bag generally sells for $10 to $15. They often are sold in bundles of 10, the prosecutor said.
The amounts spent by the informants who worked with the police ranged from $40 to $990, with most of the buys at the lower end of the scale, Wydysh said.
Five of the eight persons indicted in connection with the alleged operation pleaded not guilty in Niagara County Court in Lockport Thursday. The other three had yet to be apprehended as of Thursday.
The five arraigned are accused of making a total of 32 heroin sales to police informants between November 2014 and September 2015, Wydysh said.
The biggest fish in the net allegedly is Juan J. Martinez, 39, of Linwood Avenue. "Mr. Martinez was the linchpin of this case," Wydysh told County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III. "He was kind of the one everyone else was going through in this heroin ring."
The indictment accuses Martinez of making 11 heroin sales. He served eight months of an 18-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to selling heroin in 2012 and flunking out of the judicial diversion program of court-supervised drug treatment, Wydysh said. He was paroled in September 2014.
Assistant Public Defender Michael E. Benedict, who handled all the cases Thursday, said Martinez is not employed and is receiving public assistance. He said Martinez has lived in the Falls for about 12 years and just last week brought his father from Puerto Rico to live with him.
Other defendants who pleaded not guilty Thursday included Cruz Morales, 37, of Spring Street, accused of three heroin deals; Raymond Jimenez Jr., 57, of Michigan Avenue, charged with seven sales; Jose Corchado-Cruz, 45, of Ontario Avenue, indicted on five sale counts; and Jeremy Montanez, 21, of Falls Street, accused of six sales.
The indicted suspects still at large include Montanez's father, Luis Montanez, 52, charged with six heroin deals; Jason Davis, 21, accused of five sales; and Karen Rodriguez, 33, who was allegedly involved in one sale. Wydysh said at first it was reported that Davis was in jail on other charges, but that turned out to be incorrect.
Murphy set bail at $125,000 for Martinez, $50,000 for Jimenez, $30,000 for Corchado-Cruz and $20,000 each for Morales and Montanez.