BY STACI WILSON
A crystal methamphetamine ring with connections to Mexican drug cartels and operated locally was broken last week in a joint law enforcement effort between federal, New York and Susquehanna County investigators.
Seven people – including two Susquehanna County men – were arrested in “Operation Crystal Ball” raids executed Tuesday, Aug. 7, inPennsylvaniaandNew York.
Ernesto Nava, 50, of Main St., New Milford, and Dillan Capwell, 33, Laurel Lake Rd., Silver Lake Twp., face federal drug trafficking charges. If convicted, each man faces a
maximum prison term of life and a minimum 10 year sentence.
Others charged in the case include Donivan Pittman, 30, ofCobb County,Ga.; Thomas Cole, 49, Town ofUnion,Broome County,N.Y.; Matthew Hibbard, 54, Town ofBinghamton,Broome County,N.Y.; Cynthia Hibbard, 57,Town of Binghamton,N.Y.; and Addie Cole, 39, of Cobb County, Ga.
In a press conference held Thursday, Aug. 16 at the New York State Police barracks, Kirkwood, N.Y., law enforcement officials and prosecutors said about one and one-half pounds of crystal methamphetamine had been seized, as well as 45 guns.
NYSP Lt. Patrick Garey said the approximate street value of the drugs seized is $150,000.
Many of the weapons were seized from the Nava residence.
It was also there where police discovered numerous exotic animals, including kinkajou, ring-tailed cats, hedge hogs and a spotted skunk during the Main St., New Milford raid,
Pennsylvania Game Commission officers were then called to remove the animals from the home.
The drugs, investigators said, originated in methamphetamine super labs set up in Mexico or the southwest U. S. and were then transported to Georgia and then to this area.
The bust, Garey said, is a significant one and has taken a lot of the drug off the streets.
“In the past six to eight months we’ve seen a tremendous amount of methamphetamine come into this area though this group,” he said. “It’s more difficult to get meth on the street in the area now.”
Investigators said about two to four pounds of the drug were being brought into the region every three weeks.
The investigation into the drug ring began in January 2011 and efforts began to ramp up in January 2012 as pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place, Garey said.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas P. Walsh.
Agencies involved in the investigation include: New York State Police – Community Narcotics Enforcement Team; the Town of Vestal Police Dept.; the Village of Endicott Police Dept.; the Susquehanna County’s District Attorney’s office; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.