BUFFALO — A Falls man has pleaded guilty, in U.S. District Court in Buffalo, to his role in a marijuana smuggling conspiracy.

Samuel Zito, 31, entered his plea to a charge of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and distributing, 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, and a fine of $5 million.

Federal prosecutors said at a plea hearing that sometime in August 2020, Zito and co-conspirators Marquies McTyere and Alexander Schieppati, arranged for a shipment of pot to be delivered from Canada to Freightboy Logistics in the Falls.

However, the shipment, which contained approximately 600 pounds of marijuana packaged in vacuum sealed bags, was intercepted, on Aug. 6, 2020, by United States Customs & Border Protection officers. 

After searching the shipment, officers determined that the marijuana had been purchased by Zito and Schieppati from a source in Canada and was intended to be distributed in both the Falls and Buffalo. Officers tracked the shipment and a controlled delivery was made on Aug. 7, 2020.

Investigators sad the shipment was picked-up by Schieppati and taken to Falls motel. Zito, McTyere, and Schieppati were then arrested, at the motel.

Officers said they also recovered $239,850 from a storage facility utilized by McTyere. The money was found in the vicinity of drug packaging materials and was packaged in vacuum sealed bags.

McTyere and Schieppati have also been convicted in connection with the conspiracy.

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