SARANAC LAKE - Just days after officials in Essex County charged 10 with criminal sale and possession of prescription medications, the Franklin County Narcotics/Border Task Force busted up a small network that's allegedly been trafficking heroin and illegal handguns into the North Country.
Several law enforcement agencies recently conducted raids on three homes connected with the illicit sale of crack cocaine and heroin.
According to a release issued by the Narcotics Task Force, officers from the New York State Police Special Operations Response Team entered the home of 41-year-old Malone resident Kevin M. Handly shortly after 6 a.m. Jan. 8.
A subsequent search led to charges of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a felony.
Following the arrest, a second residence was searched, but no arrest occurred there.
Then, in the town of Bellmont, officers conducted a search of a home occupied by 19-year-old Donald S. Williams of Brooklyn. He too was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.
Elsewhere, officers took into custody 25-year-old Adam M. Petell of Burke and 19-year-old Megan L. Swinyer of Malone. Both were charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.
Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne said the four arrests were the result of a six-month investigation conducted by the Narcotics/Border Task Force, which consists of members from the Malone Police Department, New York State Police, the Franklin County District Attorney's Office, and the regional office of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
The task force also received help from the Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake police departments.
"Drug investigations of this nature in the past have taken up to two years to conduct," says a press release issued by the Narcotics Task Force. "But this investigation took on a more urgent status when investigators learned that there were illegal handguns and highly addictive crack cocaine and heroin being brought into the area from metropolitan areas of the state."
District Attorney Champagne says Friday's arrests targeted a specific group which had established a direct source from New York City to the Malone area.
"There are already an estimated one million heroin addicts in the United States and we do not need these outsiders preying on our youth," Champagne said in a prepared statement. "If we stop one child from becoming an addict today, it was worth the effort."
The DA praised the various agencies involved, including the New York State Police Gun and Narcotics unit.
Champagne said he anticipates making more arrests.