A year-long investigation into a region-wide drug distribution network resulted in guilty pleas Friday by three Buffalo men, who were among nearly two dozen charged with participating in the illegal narcotics ring.
The three were among those arrested in May as part of "Operation Babcock," launched by the state Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force and the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, or C-NET, operated by the State Police. Babcock is the nickname of a South Buffalo neighborhood where much of the investigation took place.
The drug gang operated in communities throughout Western New York, including Erie, Allegany, Cattaraugus and Genesee counties.
"Drug networks like these in Western New York not only physically harm the individuals involved, but also devastate entire neighborhoods with increased crime," said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, in a news release Friday.
Michael Banks, 36, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 24. Manuel Bracero, 20, pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal possession of controlled substances, a Class B felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14. Mark Cousins, 21, pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of controlled substances, a class C felony, and will be sentenced on Oct. 24.
All three men are expected to serve time in state prison.
Schneiderman's office said the ring was selling about a kilo of cocaine per month - with street sales of about $400,000 for the year.
The "Operation Babcock" investigation halted a sizable cocaine-trafficking operation, which included cocaine shipments going from a house in Olean to people making drug deals on street corners in downtown Buffalo, a Bailey Avenue pizza shop and a residence in Batavia, according to prosecutors with the Attorney General's Office.