Wednesday, February 6, 2019

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Middletown FD lieutenant, Mechanicstown fire chief among those arrested in massive drug bust


Cocaine conspirators
            Fentanyl trafficking

TOWN OF WALLKILL – A total of 29 people, including two fire department officials and a former police officer, were arrested on Tuesday when law enforcement executed 15 search warrants in Rockland and Orange counties in “Operation Bread, White and Blues,” a reference to the money, cocaine and blue fentanyl pills seized in the operation.

DEA Agent Keith Kruskall said these arrests are just the beginning of the war against drugs.

“With the trial of El Chapo coming to an end the world witnessed how the Sinaloa cartel sent billions of dollars worth of drugs into our American cities,” Kruskall said. “This case is an example of how local distribution and operation work. They actively recruit drug users to push their poison throughout our communities.”  

State Police Troop F BCI Captain Brian Shortall said it is “disturbing” to have firefighters and police on the wrong side of the law.

“The people are asking them to respond. They are asking first responders to come out and provide them with life-saving measures, and in this case drugs are being peddled that are the exact opposite. There drugs are killing people and the unsuspecting purchasers could just do one pill and die; it’s that dangerous. If the formula used to make that pill is just the slightest bit off, they are not going to recover,” he said.

There were two conspiracies. Paul Smith, 48, of Deerpark, a paid fire lieutenant in the Middletown City Fire Department, is charged with being a major drug trafficker in both cases – self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle clubs that trafficked in cocaine, and another group that sold narcotics pills peddled as oxycodone, but laced with fentanyl.

District Attorney David Hoovler said this was the largest fentanyl-trafficking ring in Orange County.

 Dominick Guardino, 55, of Middletown, the Town of Wallkill-based Mechanicstown Fire Department chief, is also charged with being a member of both conspiracies.

Other alleged key players are Marquis Gamble, 34, of Nyack, a major trafficker; John Beltempo, 49, of New Windsor, formerly a cop in the Village of Spring Valley and Town of Wallkill, and in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office; and Garry Michel, 48, of the Town of Wallkill, considered a major trafficker.

The six-month investigation resulted in the seizure of some 1,300 fentanyl pills, 2 ½ pounds of cocaine, $200,000 in cash, 25 handguns, an assault weapon, rifles, cars and other vehicles. Hoovler also seized $150,000 in cash in the investigation, which was conducted by the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, State Police Special Operations Response Team, the FBI and the DEA.

The DA said meetings were held in the Middletown Central Fire House, but there is no indication of other firefighters being involved and no indication of any fire vehicles used in the drug trafficking.


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