Share this article

print logo


Cocaine trafficking probe nets six suspects in Ontario

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. -- Five Southern Ontaro residents and their alleged leader -- a heavily tattooed Niagara-on-the-Lake resident -- were arrested Wednesday by more than 150 agents after a 14-month investigation of cocaine trafficking in the Niagara Region.

U.S. Homeland Security were among those involved in the probe, "because we feel a lot of the cocaine seized here was brought over the three bridges from the states, and the waterways we share," Staff Sgt. Joe Maggiolo, of the Niagara Regional Police Service's intelligence unit, told The Buffalo News Wednesday night.

Nicola "Nick" Nero, 35, described by law enforcement officials as a "major" area drug dealer, suffered facial cuts when he was pulled out of his SUV in the parking lot of a St. Catharines halfway house about 7 a.m.

Police said Nero, of Riverbeach Drive, and his associates were arrested in simultaneous raids across the region, including in Toronto.

Also charged were: Tawnya Fletcher, 27, also of Riverbeach Drive in Niagara-on-the-Lake; Jordyn Delben Fletcher, 29, of Marmac Drive, St. Catharines; Frank Alessio, 34, and his brother, Angelo Alessio, 36, both already held in the Niagara Region Detention Centre; and Courtney Bryan, 32, of Toronto.

Police did not disclose the specific charges against the defendants.

The six were taken into custody as part of the "Project Ink" investigation into cocaine trafficking in the region. Five of the defendants are linked to the seizures of 110 kilos of cocaine, with a street value of $30 million, police said, but Bryan is not.

Maggiolo said the investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected.


Ontario dairy barn leveled by fire; 100 cows, calves die

WAINFLEET, Ont. -- A devastating fire tore through a dairy barn early Wednesday, causing about $1 million in damage and killing 100 cows and calves.

Fire was first noticed about 12:20 a.m. coming from the second floor of the the barn on the Bartels family farm property, at Millrace and Fords roads, Niagara region fire officials said.

The two-story barn was engulfed in flames by the time several volunteer fire crews arrived.

Several calves were pulled out of the 120-year-old barn, but they all ran back inside and died with the rest of the herd, firefighters said.

Raw milk stored in the barn was also destroyed in the fire.

Demolition of the remains of the structure began later Wednesday morning.

Fire officials said the fire became so intense it melted a nearby hydroelectric line, melted paint off a garage across the street and singed nearby plants and bushes. Two hay wagons parked near the barn were also destroyed in the fire.

No injuries were reported.


Police probe shooting of boy, 10, in Olean

PORTVILLE -- State police in Olean are investigating the shooting of a 10-year-old boy.

Troopers were called to the scene of an accidental shooting incident about 4 p.m.

Further details were not released by troopers or Cattaraugus County sheriff's officials.


Search resumes for kayaker presumed drowned in forest

SOUTH VALLEY -- Authorities say they've resumed their search for a Jamestown man presumed drowned when his kayak capsized on a reservoir on the New York-Pennsylvania border.

Jonathon Miller, 22, was kayaking with a friend on the Allegheny Reservoir in the Allegheny National Forest on Sunday afternoon when their boats overturned, Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Lt. Shawn Gregory said Wednesday.

The friend swam to the reservoir's New York shore but Miller disappeared. The friend went for help at a nearby Pennsylvania boat launch, Gregory said.

Authorities haven't released the other man's name.

Police using a boat equipped with side-scan sonar resumed the search Wednesday morning.

The reservoir is about 70 miles south of Buffalo.


Man accused of selling unauthorized merchandise

A Savannah man has been named in a federal grand jury indictment for continued trafficking in counterfeit and unauthorized merchandise linked to the FX television network's "Sons of Anarchy" series.

Ryan Breen, 32, also has been indicted with committing a federal offense while on pretrial release, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced Wednesday.

Breen is accused of operating two websites which offered for online sale counterfeit T-shirts and goods using the Sons of Anarchy trademark illegally.

He did not have the permission of the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., producer and exclusive owner of the TV series, to sell items, Hochul said.

If convicted, Breen faces a prison term of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $2 million.

Federal authorities also are seeking nearly $90,000 in sales forfeitures from Breen, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.