CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y.-Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy announced today that Daniel Molina Rios, a/k/a Ponce, 43, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 100 grams or more of heroin before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, and a $5,000,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan A. Tokash, who is handling the case, stated that between March 2014, and June 2015, the defendant conspired with Orlando Rios, Luis Montanez, and Jose Andujar, and others to distribute heroin on the West Side of Buffalo. Rios headed a wide-scale drug trafficking organization and supervised several street-level dealers who used a series of cellular telephones to conduct daily sales with customers seeking to buy heroin.
During the conspiracy, the defendant made at least six trips to the New York City area to purchase large quantities of heroin from a source of supply, purchasing at least 300 grams of heroin on each trip. In addition, during the conspiracy, the Buffalo Police Department and New York State Police conducted 66 undercover heroin purchases from individuals subordinate to the defendant in the organization.
Rios exercised ultimate decision making authority and had complete authority over five or more other participants, including at least 10 drug “runners” who were responsible for coordinating sales for incoming customers who contacted the drug trafficking organization on a “runner” phone each day. The defendant also maintained a premise at 74 Fillmore Avenue in Buffalo for distributing the heroin that was sold. A search of the residence on June 18, 2015, recovered six cell phones, packaging materials for heroin, and $14,293.00, in U.S. currency representing the proceeds from heroin distribution.
A total of 14 defendants have been indicted in connection with this case, and Rios is the eighth to be convicted. Charges are pending against the remaining defendants. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), under the direction of Major David Krause and Lieutenant Kevin Reyes, CNET West Commander; and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
Rios is scheduled to be sentenced on November 2, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. before Judge Geraci.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Western District of New York