Nine charged in drug bust

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Eight men and one woman were taken into custody Wednesday morning as part of a large scale drug bust in the Utica, Whitesboro and Yorkville areas.

Seven of the men are facing federal drug trafficking charges.

Sheriff Robert M. Maciol said multiple local and federal law enforcement agencies have been investigating the sale and possession of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine in Utica and the surrounding area since April 2020. Early Wednesday morning, Maciol said more than 20 search warrants were executed in Utica, Whitesboro and Yorkville.

Charged with federal drug trafficking:

• Ivan Rodriguez, 46, of Yorkville.

• Ivan Rodriguez Jr., 26, of Utica.

• Jose Aponte, 21, of Utica.

• Angel Calderon-Ortiz, 21, of Utica.

• Bernabe Lopez, 56, of Whitesboro.

• Eric Ares, 36, of Utica.

• Edgar Tejada, 34, of Utica.

Also charged in the raids were Andrew Relf, 34, of Whitesboro, and Radi Fairman, 34, of Whitesboro, on outstanding County Court warrants for third-degree possession of a controlled substance, authorities said.

During the various raids, authorities said they seized three ounces of heroin, five ounces of fentanyl, five grams of crystal meth, one kilogram of cocaine, six handguns, two loaded shotguns, an assault rifle, a 9mm Uzi with an extended magazine, $20,000 in cash, roughly $100,000 worth of gold jewelry and 14 high end motor vehicles, including a BMW, a Lexus and a Jaguar.

An additional 3.5 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl had been seized prior to the raids as part of the ongoing investigation, authorities said. The investigation was conducted by the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police Violent Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Utica Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal IRS, the Department of Homeland Security and other local police agencies. Assisting in the raids on Wednesday were the Rome, New Hartford, Whitesboro and Yorkville police departments.

All nine individuals are scheduled to appear in either federal or local courts.

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