Indictment: Fulton County-based drug ring used cryptic wording, acts allegedly spanned more than 14 months

JOHNSTOWN — The 136-page indictment unsealed this week against 54 people accused in a large, Fulton County-based drug ring provides more information on the alleged acts of those involved.

The indictment filed by the state Attorney General’s office alleges those involved conducted business in part over cell phones “using codes and speaking in a guarded, cryptic manner.”

The acts alleged in the conspiracy spanned from April 23, 2020, to as recent as July 3 of this year, a span of more than 14 months.

The indictment also sheds more light on what the Attorney General’s office Wednesday described as a thwarted attempt to invade the Gloversville residence of a rival drug dealer. 

The incident allegedly happened in December and resulted in attempted burglary, attempted robbery, as well as weapons possession counts against the four people charged in that incident.

The state Attorney General’s Office Wednesday announced the sweeping indictment in a press release. In all, 54, people were charged, accused of varying roles in the alleged conspiracy.

Of those 54, at least 28 had Gloversville addresses. Three others came from elsewhere in Fulton County, while the residences of two others could not be determined.

The ring then distributed the drugs to customers throughout the Capital Region, including Fulton, Montgomery, Saratoga and Schenectady counties, officials said.

The investigation lasted a year and led to the seizure of about two kilograms of methamphetamine, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, 14 grams of heroin, four handguns and $25,000 in cash, officials said.

Officials identified the central figures in the network as Brianna Nichols, 25, of Gloversville, and Michael Kuntsch, 33, of St. Johnsville.

Nichols and Kuntsch would often work together to obtain and sell methamphetamine in Fulton County, officials said. The investigation showed Nichols had multiple sources for the drugs, and that she sold the drugs to customers who traveled to her from around the region and from even as far away as Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, officials said.

The effort — code-named “Operation Garage Days” — included covert surveillance and hundreds of hours of wiretaps over numerous targeted phones, officials said.

The indictment provides a sample of what investigators allegedly heard on the wiretaps. 

In one instance, Nov. 22, 2020, one conspirator asked another if they had for sale any superior quality cocaine, which one referred to as “good crizzle.”

In another instance days later one accused another of shorting them on cocaine and asked to “put the stuff back on the scale,” the indictment reads. The other conspirator disputed the claim and used the term “yams” to refer to grams of cocaine, the indictment reads.

In a December 2020 account, one of the individuals agreed to sell another cocaine in Montgomery County and investigators watched the alleged conspirator arrive and enter the address to complete the transaction, the indictment read.

In another, a conspirator referred to heroin as “food,” and another methamphetamine as “ice.”

The operation used multiple other code words, as well, the indictment reads.

The indictment was unsealed Wednesday in Fulton County Court and contains a total of 376 counts, officials said. Charges include felony counts of criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance, as well as felony second-degree conspiracy.

Investigators also intercepted plans during the investigation for a home-invasion-style robbery of a rival drug trafficker in Gloversville, officials said. The investigators thwarted the plot, intercepting the plotters and seized a loaded handgun they had planned to use, officials said.

Officials identified the alleged robbery plotters as Sahib Braan, 30, of Troy, Miguel John, 26, of Saratoga Springs, Jordan Thomas, 23, of Troy, and Christian Mitchell, 33, of Troy.

Those four each face in the indictment second-degree robbery, second-degree attempted burglary charges, felonies. John, Thomas and Mitchell also each face second-degree criminal possession of a weapon counts, felonies.

They are accused of attempting the robbery over a time period between Dec. 19 through Dec. 21, 2020, while armed with a Taurus G3 9mm handgun, the indictment reads.

The Attorney General’s Office indicated investigators were able to thwart the plot and seize the handgun.

They didn’t elaborate, but Gloversville City Court records indicate investigators attempted to stop a vehicle driven by Thomas on Yale Street at about 4:10 p.m. Dec. 21. Thomas was accused of fleeing the stop at speeds of 55 mph and on a suspended license. 

Thomas later pleaded guilty to attempting to flee an officer in that case and received a fine and surcharge, records show.

The arrests resulted from a joint investigation between the state Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, the Johnstown Police Department, the Gloversville Police Department, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the Amsterdam Police Department, the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York State Police.

By LH Staff

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