State Police bust dozens in Ithaca and Finger Lakes heroin ring

The New York State Police worked with local law enforcement to arrest 31 people from Ithaca, the Finger Lakes, and New York City on 217 counts related to a heroin ring, according to Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. File photo courtesy NYS AG’s Office.

“Today’s arrests should send the message to those terrorizing and dealing death in our communities: we will find you and prosecute you,” said Attorney General Schneiderman in a statement. “My office has taken on the devastating heroin and opioid abuse epidemic through a multi-faceted approach, including our S.U.R.G.E Initiative – using every tool at our disposal to crack down on the complex, violent heroin and opioid distribution networks. This epidemic has shattered families and taken far too many lives already, and I am committed to doing everything in my power to hold those responsible accountable.”

A statement from the Attorney General’s office says 31 people “from New York City and throughout the Finger Lakes Region, including in New York, Bronx, Queens, Schuyler, Tioga, and Tompkins Counties” were arrested and charged in a 217-count indictment as part of “Operation Un-Wise.”

The AG’s office says a central figure in the alleged heroin distribution network was Arthur “Wise” Erskine. According to the criminal charges, Erskine was an Ithaca-based heroin dealer who purchased heroin from a source in New York City for $56 per gram.

Those charged today include:

  • Joseph Besemer, 34 years old, of Newfield, NY
  • Shaylee Bisgrove, 24 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Destiny Boda, 25 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Lynn Boda, 50 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Myia Boda, 31 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Corey Bond, 31 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Stormie Coyne, 39 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Katie Crapo, 28 years old, of Odessa, NY
  • Michael Dawson, 26 years old, of Willseyville, NY
  • Arthur Erskine, 40 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Erica Farrell, 32 years old, of Candor, NY
  • Dioremi Feliz, 36 years old, of New York, New York
  • Brittany Ford, 28 years old, of Bronx, NY
  • Shanakia Gray, 34 years old, of Newfield, NY
  • Zachary Kelly, 32 years old, of Bronx, NY
  • Yvette King, 40 years old, of Lansing, NY
  • Zavierus King, 22 years old, of Lansing, NY
  • Johnny Lee, 37 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Angelo LeGrande, 42 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Jerica Luoma, 28 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Eric MacDonald, 32 years old, of Candor, NY
  • Dustin Myers, 29 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Jose Polanco, 38 years old, of New York, NY
  • Devon Rose, 19 years old, of Willseyville, NY
  • Branden Schmeltz, 22 years old, of Spencer, NY
  • Nicole Spence, 43 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Aylah Stewart-Boda, 25 years old, of Ithaca, NY
  • Brandon Stone, 26 years old, of Candor, NY
  • Savanna Washington, 26 years old, of Candor, NY
  • Justin Westbrook, 25 years old, of Spencer, NY
  • Joseph White, 26 years old, of Cortland, NY

“Opioid use is a major problem in Ithaca and Tompkins County, with overdoses an almost daily occurrence, and unnecessary deaths all too frequent. I am pleased that we were able to work with Attorney General Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force to break up this heroin ring,” said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick. “I am hopeful that this will slow the flow of drugs and save lives in the immediate term. We are committed to a four-pillar strategy that includes, as we saw today, law enforcement. In the coming months and years we must continue our focus on all four pillars, especially prevention, treatment, and harm reduction.”

The investigation was directed by New York State Police investigator John Ward and Ithaca Police investigator Kevin McKenna. IPD’s involvement was directed by Lt. Michael Nelson, according to the release.

The Attorney General’s Office says Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force has partnered with state and local law enforcement to bring over 800 accused drug and gun dealers to justice since 2010.

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