The New York State Police and the United States Postal Inspection Service today announced the arrest of 22 people and the seizure of drugs, weapons, cash and one vehicle resulting from a joint drug investigation throughout Central New York. The investigation, named “Operation Pandora’s Box,” targeted drug suppliers from New York and around the nation — and even overseas — who are using the U.S. Mail to ship narcotics and synthetic drugs, along with other contraband, into the region.
The suppliers of illegal drugs are exploiting every channel they can to infiltrate our communities, including the U.S. Postal Service,” said State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico. “Operation Pandora’s Box is the result of collaboration and cooperation between all levels of government – federal, state and local law enforcement – to catch the suppliers and their conspirators red handed. Law enforcement is sending them a message: No matter how you attempt to bring illegal drugs into our communities, we will find you and send you to jail.”
Postal Inspector in Charge Shelly A. Binkowski said, “The Postal Service is in the business of delivering the mail and has no interest in being involved in the distribution of illegal drugs. Our objectives are to rid the mail of illicit drug trafficking, preserve the integrity of the mail and, most importantly, provide a safe environment for postal employees and Postal Service customers—the American public. I commend the hard work and countless hours put forth by all of the law enforcement agencies. Together we will continue to be vigilant in disrupting criminal organizations who illegally utilize the U.S. Postal Service.”
Operation Pandora’s Box started the week of March 28. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), including K9 units, intercepted packages suspected of containing drugs as they came into the Central New York Postal Sorting Center in the town of Cicero, Onondaga County. After confirming the packages contained the suspected illegal contraband, law enforcement agencies were able to target the delivery locations throughout Central New York, making arrests and seizing the drugs, weapons, and $161,089.01 in the process. Those sending packages from within New York State were also arrested.
Other agencies involved in the operation include federal Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the Syracuse, Utica, Rome, Oneonta, Binghamton, Johnson City, Vestal and Auburn police departments, the Cayuga and Oneida County sheriff’s offices, and the Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga and Broome County district attorney’s offices. In addition to State Police CNET, Troops B, C, D, E, Aviation Unit and the Special Operations Response Team also assisted.
In addition to those pictured, the following were charged: Cory C. Catalano, 24, Syracuse, unlawful possession of marijuana; Carlos Seminatio, 22, Harrison, third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; and Randall A. Desjardins, 54, Westfield, third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance (cocaine).
The domestic seizures included drugs coming from within New York State, as well as California, Colorado, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington:
- 80.5 pounds of marihuana
2 pounds hash oil
- 306 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms
- 980 tablets of Xanax
- 3.4 oz. of MDMA
- 2.2 oz of cocaine
- .9 oz of crack cocaine
- 20 grams of heroin
- 93 hits of LSD
- ¼ kilo of synthetic drugs
- Semi-automatic assault weapon with two 30 round magazines
- .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle with two magazines
.22 caliber semi-automatic assault rifle with three 30 round magazines
- 9mm semi-automatic assault rifle
- .12 gauge pump action shotgun
- 2006 Mercedes Benz 280
The operation also targeted shipments from China and India, which contained pharmaceuticals, pills, steroids, synthetic drugs and counterfeit goods:
- 8,340 dosage units of illegally imported pharmaceuticals and pills
- Counterfeit Nike sneakers from China
- 4 kilos of synthetic drugs