Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 20, 2013

City man pleads guilty to federal drug charges

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — BUFFALO — A Lockport man pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to drug conspiracy charges connected to an Aug. 2010 raid on his Chestnut Street home.

Eric Williams, 34, faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison following his admission in front of U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and the distribution of, cocaine.

Williams was accused of leading a drug ring comprised of several people from around the county that reportedly trafficked cocaine into the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area from Texas.

Officers from local and federal agencies stormed Williams' home at 118 Chestnut St. on Aug. 17, 2010 after a year-long investigation into the ring. At the same time, law enforcement agents executed 19 federal arrest warrants and 10 federal search warrants in Lockport, Gasport and North Tonawanda.

Although Williams was destroying cocaine when law enforcement officers forcibly entered the residence, officers still seized approximately 436 grams of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, sophisticated surveillance equipment, firearms and $8,614 in cash.

Following the arrest Lockport Chief of Police Larry Eggert told the US&J that William’s home was equipped with a surveillance system and a 52-inch TV dedicated to watching the cameras, two large pit bulls and a barricaded door.

“The door was so hard to open, the S.W.A.T team had a hard time entering his residence, giving Williams time to attempt to flush away evidence,” Eggert said. “Luckily, they got in just before he was able to press the flush button.”

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Williams was arrested along with 22 others for narcotics trafficking. He is the 16th defendant to be convicted.       Williams and Damian Ard, also of Lockport, were said to be the co-leaders of the drug ring. According to federal records, a government plea offer has been given to Ard, and he has until Friday to decide whether to accept the offer.

In addition of Lockport Police, other law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and arrests are:

• The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

• Niagara and Orleans county sheriff’s departments

• U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

• The U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau

• Police departments from New York state, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, North Tonawanda, Middleport, Niagara Falls, Lewiston, Hamburg and Cheektowaga.   The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, a $5,000,000 fine, or both.  Sentencing is scheduled for September 10, 2013, before Judge Skretny.