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Latest sentence in WNY drug ring linked to 'El Chapo'

A Niagara Falls man was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for his role in a Western New York drug ring that had ties to kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy announced.

Michael Mitchell, 38, had been convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. He was sentenced Tuesday to 78 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.

Prosecutors said that between June 2013 and September 2015, the defendant conspired with others sell heroin, fentanyl and cocaine, and that specifically, Mitchell received heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine base from co-defendant Troy Gillon for distribution to other dealers in the Lockport and Niagara Falls area. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan Tokash handled the case while the investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Lockport Police Department and the Niagara County Drug Task Force.

Mitchell was charged along with 16 others – all of whom have been convicted – who were members of a transnational drug trafficking organization, led by Herman Aguirre, whose source of supply was the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Guzmán and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

Aguirre and Gillon, who were accused of running the Mexico-to-California-to-Buffalo drug network, were both convicted on Dec. 20, 2018.

The case is one that investigators have called one of the largest local drug prosecutions ever, in which prosecutors say $5 million in illegal drugs were seized.

Agents said the drug organization laundered its money by creating fraudulent sales records indicating it was distributing large amounts of sea cucumbers in Buffalo. Witnesses told of a shipment of 100 kilograms of cocaine that was sent to a house on Niagara Falls Boulevard in the Town of Tonawanda, one of at least 19 shipments so large, they required pallets and a tractor-trailer.

Aguirre and Gillon will face mandatory life sentences when sentenced by Vilardo in June.

Dramatic drug trial filled with tales of fear and retaliation ends in guilty verdicts

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