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Utica Drug bust brings indictments to 30 suspects after two-year investigation

US Attorney's Office

A two-year investigation into a Utica Drug ring has resulted in the indictment of 30 suspects. U-S Attorney Richard Hartunian made the announcement Wednesday. He says much of the activity was centered around Southside Auto in Utica, where cars were bought and sold with drug profits, perhaps laundering money. Cars were also discovered that were "trapped out" with hidden compartments for transporting drugs.

Credit US Attorney's Office
Hidden Compartment in a Jeep that authorities say was used to transport drugs for the Utica drug ring

"We have dismantled a large-scale cocaine distribution organization.  We've disabled it and effectively dismantled it, i think it's fair to say," Hartunian said.  "By charging 30 defendants over this period of the investigation, all level of the drug-distribution network and hierarchy, and seizing in total about 18 kilograms of cocaine, large quantities of prescription drugs." (list of indictments below)

Hartunian explains the investigation started about two years ago, tracking numerous street level dealers in Utica to drug distribution sources in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Several arrests last year led to search warrants and wire taps that led the way to the indictments. 


Utica Police Chief Mark Williams says the case nabbed street level dealers all the way to the suppliers.

"I think a lot of the major players were scooped up in this operation.  However we're also mindful there are a lot of different drugs out there and unfortunately a lot of drug dealers," added Williams.  "With all our collective efforts, whether it's with the Oneida county drug task force, our own in-house drug unit, or working with the multiple agencies, we're hoping we can put a dent in it."

That dent was estimated at as much as 100 kilograms of cocaine that they think this operation moved. The indictments allege the 30 suspects trafficked cocaine and crack...and they were charged with conspiracy, which could bring sentences of 10-years-to-life in prison.


The defendants were charged with conspiring to distribute these drugs from the summer of 2011 through June 26, 2012. The following defendants were arrested or sought today :

US v. SEAN HAGANS, et al. 5 :13-CR-137

  • Sean Hagans, a/k/a "Pretty,"? 42, of Utica, NY,
  • Timothy Rider, 46, of Utica, NY,
  • Alexis Tarris, 26, Frankfort, NY,
  • Scott Fyfe, 41, Utica, NY, and
  • Michael Lynch, 39, of Utica, NY.
  • US v. REID SOOK, et al.


  • Reid Sook, a/k/a "Country," 38, of Utica, NY,
  • Arthur Charles Robinson, 24, of Utica, NY,
  • John Robinson, a/k/a "Pooh Bear,"? 38, of Utica, NY,
  • Cecil Jeffrey Palmer, a/k/a "Cry Baby"42, of Utica, NY,
  • Alexis Tarris, 26, Frankfort, NY,
  • Scott Fyfe, 41, Utica, NY,
  • Brandon Winn, 20, of Niagara Falls, NY,
  • Dennis Amsdill, 29, of Lewiston, NY,
  • Kimberly Springer, 31, of Utica, NY,
  • Raymond Schloop, 41, of Utica, NY,
  • Jim Caruso, 46, of Utica, NY,
  • Michael Rossi, a/k/a "Ross,"? 50, of Utica, NY,
  • Sean Palmer, a/k/a Ram, 40, of Utica, NY,
  • Crawford Gary, a/k/a Cliff," 44, of Utica, NY
  • , and
  • Michael Lynch, 39, of Utica, NY.

The indictment further alleges that MICHAEL LYNCH, a local car dealer who operates Southside Auto at 2101 Whitesboro Street, Utica allowed this property to be used as a drug distribution center, as well as laundering funds for drug dealers through the buying and selling of cars and structuring cash deposits from the dealership to avoid bank cash reporting requirements. The United States seeks the forfeiture of this property.
Unique to this case, however, is that investigators were also able to identify their suppliers and associates. This aspect of the investigation resulted in the arrest and indictment of an additional twelve (12) persons in December 2012:


  • Francisco Linares Perez, a/k/a "Jimmy,"? 28, of Utica, NY,
  • Gustavo Perez, 31, of Utica, NY,
  • Natanael Perez-Martinez, a/k/a "Jose Ramos-Tapia," 27, of Utica, NY,
  • Reynaldo Javier-Hernandez, a/k/a "Rey" 34, of Utica, NY,
  • Tomas Cazanas, a/k/a "Cu?ba" 67, of Utica, NY,
  • Sabhudin Palo, a/k/a "The Bosnian"25, of Utica, NY,
  • Margaret Boutell, 26, of Utica, NY,
  • Olvin Rivera, 30, of Utica, NY,
  • Harold Nelson, 42, of Utica, NY,
  • Pablo Goico, 29, of Utica, NY,
  • Jason Rodriguez, 29, of Utica, NY, and
  • Anthony Degristina, 33, a/k/a "The Italian"of Utica, NY.

(from US Attorney Press Release, May 29th, 2013)

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.