Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

March 27, 2008

CRIME: Pre-dawn raids take down distribution network moving cocaine from Amherst to Lockport

By Rick Pfeiffer and April Amadon

LOCKPORT — A task force of more than 200 federal, state and local law enforcement agents has taken down a large scale cocaine distribution ring that reached from Amherst to Lockport and throughout Niagara County.

The operation begin in the pre-dawn hours Thursday and resulted in the arrest of 35 individuals. A 36th suspect was expected to surrender to authorities later today. In addition to the arrests, authorities also seized a large amount of cocaine and cash.

They also broke up a marijuana grow operation at one Amherst home.

Dubbed “Operation Good Life”, the 18-month investigation targeted a former Lockport resident, now living in Amherst, who investigators estimated may have been moving as much as a half a pound of powered cocaine a week in Lockport.

“This was a major distribution ring,” said Chief Mark Driess, the commander of the Niagara County Drug Task Force. “Lockport was the end of the network and we worked our way back to Amherst (to dismantle it).”

Melinda “Mindy” Donovan, 29, 2050 North French Road, Amherst, was identified as the organizer of the distribution ring. James Williams, 44, 8075 Greiner Road, Amherst and Tyrone Nance, 26, 3980 Ridge Lea Road Apt. C, Amherst were identified as Donovan’s suppliers.

“These are some pretty significant dealers,” Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert said. “I think they were supplying a lot of people.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Catherine Baumgarten, who is handling the prosecution, said in a press release that the investigation involved the use of court-ordered wiretapping, undercover drug purchases and other investigative techniques.

Eggert said the investigation began with a traffic stop conducted by Officer Aric Morgan in the City of Lockport last year.

“It was just a routine stop,” Eggert said. “(Morgan) was able to get a little information and passed it on the drug task force. ... From that initial stop, this whole year-long investigation (began).”

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