The US Attorney's office in Syracuse says the kingpins in the Molly distribution are 52 year old William Harper and 38 year old Gerry Gero, both from Syracuse. Assistant US Attorney Carla Freedman says they operated separately, but their operations overlapped, and they reportedly helped each other if one of the other's supply was intercepted, from China.
CNYcentral confirms one of the "Kingpins" in this drug bust is a former Syracuse businessman who may be familiar to many who live and work downtown. William Harper, 52, is the former owner of The Coffee Pavillion in Hanover Square. He also had a brief entry into politics: running for a seat on the Syracuse Common Council as a Republican back in 2007.
Even though the alleged distributors are older, Molly appears to be a drug of choice for teens, especially for high school students. Colby Sutter, who does youth development for the Syracuse-based Prevention Network, says it's easily available in many area schools. It's usually sold in gel-caps, for $15 - 25 per pill to be swallowed, or in powder form--slightly more expensive-- to be inhaled. Sutter says 'kids are liking it because it gives them a loose feeling,' de-stressed but at the same time with lots of energy. One dose can last all night. There are side-effects, though: 'It makes you sweat alot,' Sutter says, because the body is trying to flush the drug out, so people seem to be drinking water alot. It also raises blood pressure and makes the heart beat faster. Sutter says it also affects the brain, in as quickly as one dose, and can lead to paranoia and depression, and people get hooked on the 'good feelings' Molly provides.
Read more on Tuesday's bust:Nearly two dozen people are facing charges after an early morning drug bust. Federal prosecutors say a large scale drug ring was based here in Central New York.
Investigators say the suspects were trafficking a drug known as "Molly." According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, it is an extremely dangerous drug with effects similar to those of Ecstasy. It is marketed as a more intense version of Ecstasy, and can cause hallucinations when taken in large amounts. Drug officials say it can be even more dangerous for people who have taken Ecstasy and accidentally overdose on Molly trying to get those hallucinogenic effects.
According to federal prosecutors, Molly is the street name for 4-Methylmethcathinone (4-MMC) and 4-Methyl-N-Ethylcathinone (4-MEC).
Eighteen of the 22 people indicted on drug charges were in custody on Tuesday morning. Those suspects include the following:
William Harper (age 52) of SyracuseGerry Gero (age 38) of SyracuseMelissa Tiffany (age 37) of SyracuseJeremy Allen (age 34) of Grapevine, TXERNEST SNELL (age 41) of SyracuseCharles Demott, Jr. (age 44) of LiverpoolKenneth Feria (age 40) of Hollywood, CARosario Gambuzza (age 46) of East SyracuseMary Ooot-Gambuzza (age 48) of East SyracuseAlicia McManus (age 25) of Hollywood, CAJon Radway (age 32) of PompeyPhillip Massara, Jr. (age 27) of ClayLisa Vancamp (age 29) of BaldwinsvilleJennifer DeFio (age 34) of SyracuseRosario Sorbello (age 29) of BaldwinsvilleRyan Carter (age 31) of SyracuseStephen MarshallMatthew Mieszkowsi, Jr.
There are also four other suspects still at large. They are Vincent Cizenski, Arafat Wahdan, and two unnamed suspects. If you have any information about where they could be, call the CNY Fugitive Task Force at (315) 473-7625.
The investigation into this alleged drug ring began in 2009. Prosecutors say the phones of two defendants were tapped, revealing the trafficking organization. During the investigation, police seized 25 kilograms of Molly with a street value worth at least $525,000, 24 guns, more than $100,000 in cash, four vehicles, a boat, and drug paraphernalia.
Investigators say the drug was made in China and shipped to distributors in Syracuse.
If convicted, the suspects could face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.