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13 held in drug raids on 9 houses South Buffalo home seen as major supplier

A sweep of nine suspected drug houses across Buffalo on Monday afternoon and evening by city police narcotics and SWAT teams included a South Buffalo home believed to be "a major supplier" of pain pills and crack cocaine to Southtowns communities, authorities reported.

The 11-hour operation began at about noon Monday. By day's end, 13 people were arrested, an attacking pit bull dog was shot dead and a loaded .32-caliber handgun was seized along with about $10,000 cash and large quantities of crack cocaine, marijuana and pain pills.

"This is all part of the 'zero tolerance' initiative," said Lt. Thomas Lyon. "We're continuing to focus on the neighborhood problems."

Several neighborhood complaints led police to the lower apartment at 94 Ladner Ave., Lyon said. When officers got inside, they found more than 350 pills, including Oxycontin, Loritab and Hydrocodone. It is believed they were suppliers to South Buffalo, Lackawanna, Hamburg and West Seneca.

"We know there is a lot of concern in the Southtowns regarding heroin and pain pills. We're actively trying to find the source of these drugs," Lyon said. "It was widely known in the pill community that there was easy access to various pain pills."

Arrested there were Philip Azzaretto, 55, and Edith Isaacs, 50, both of that address. They were charged with felony criminal possession of a controlled substance, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawfully dealing with a child. A 7-year-old boy living at the home was taken by police and turned over to other family members.

Police said Azzaretto was unemployed but allegedly collected disability and Social Security while dealing drugs. He owns several newer model motor vehicles, authorities said. Additional charges are possible pending an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Social Services and the Internal Revenue Service.

Police made a grisly discovery in another raid at 61 Wende St. A dead bull mastiff dog in "an advanced state of decomposition" was found in the attic of the home. It had been shot dead, possibly several months ago, police said.

A loaded handgun and a quantity of marijuana also were seized.

Jermaine Bailey, 32, of that address, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of marijuana.

Meanwhile, a pit bull dog charging officers was shot dead by SWAT officers at 32 Cornwall Ave. Another pit bull was seized from that house along with a quantity of crack cocaine. Arrests are pending.

Lyon and his team of narcotics detectives, including Dave Sugg, Johnny Walker, Michael Judge, Henry Velez and Daniel Redmond, participated in the raids under the direction of Deputy Commissioner Daniel Derenda and Chief Dennis J. Richards.

Other drug houses raided and arrests made in the roundup included:

* James Byrd, 19, of Lombard Street. Byrd was charged with criminal possession of marijuana and criminal possession of a controlled substance following a raid at 23 Rapin Place. Marijuana and crack was seized.

* Leonard Willis, 37, of Ernst Avenue; Willie Foots, 59, of Moselle Street; Ansara Walker, 24, of Linden Avenue; and Steven Williams, 40, of Minnesota Avenue, were all charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal use of drug paraphernalia after a raid at 349 Moselle St., where crack cocaine was found, police said.

* James Lotharp, 35, was charged with possession of crack cocaine at his 26 Rose St. house. He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal use of drug paraphernalia.

* Steve Cooley, 35, and Melvin Douglas, 25, were arrested at 1151 Michigan Ave., where a raid occurred and crack cocaine was found. Joshua Demps, 42, of another Michigan Avenue address, was also arrested there, police reported.

* Corey Warr, 27, of Amsterdam Avenue, was arrested on a warrant for criminal possession of a controlled substance.

* Raids took place at houses on 41 Goemble Ave. and 9 Elsie Place, where marijuana was found and arrests are pending.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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