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RAID OF 'STASH HOUSE' MAY SPUR MORE ARRESTS

Narcotics investigators say a weekend drug bust that unveiled a cache of drugs, cash and weapons will likely trigger more arrests in the coming days.

Working with Buffalo police, detectives raided a 61st Street apartment at 3:45 a.m. Sunday, confiscating more than 3 pounds of crack cocaine and nearly $250,000 in cash. Five weapons were also confiscated, including a submachine gun.

The case "may spin off in some other directions," predicted Niagara Falls Police Chief Christopher Carlin.

"In 19 years . . . that is without a doubt the most dope and money I've seen in one place," remarked Detective Lt. John Chella, head of the Niagara Falls Police Narcotics Intelligence Division.

Arrested on felony drug and weapons counts were the 61st Street resident, Arica T. Thomas, 23, and Sonya A. Hunt, 26, of Buffalo.

Buffalo police arrested Hunt's brother, John T., 24, and Jonnal Baker, 25, of Buffalo, Saturday night. Their arrest led to the raid on the Niagara Falls residence of Thomas, identified as Hunt's girlfriend, police said.

Within four hours of the initial arrest, about a dozen officers raided the 61st Street apartment.

The size of the seizure shocked veteran investigators.

Said Carlin: "Someone trafficking in that kind of weight in the city -- and that kind of money, too -- it shocked me."

Chella said that additional charges against John Hunt are expected and that a grand jury likely will explore federal weapons statutes that carry mandatory penalties.

Chella said the apartment, across the street from a playground and ballfield and one block down from 60th Street Elementary School, served as a "stash house" for the suspects.

"From all indications, it looks like they just came up from Buffalo, set up residence on that street and used it strictly to hide things. We have no information at all that they were trafficking" in Niagara Falls, he said.

The chief estimated the street value of the drugs at $500,000. He said police also seized a sport utility vehicle.

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