CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - A massive drug sweep involving 200 law enforcement officers and two helicopters was rounding up suspected drug dealers throughout St. Lawrence County and other parts of the north country Wednesday morning.
The bust, dubbed “Operation Drop,” resulted in 18 arrests and the seizure of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. The drugs had a street value of $400,000.
Officials said the drug ring, affiliated with the notorious Bloods street gang, trafficked drugs between Jersey City, New Jersey and St. Lawrence County.
County District Attorney Gary Pasqua said the ring’s name is ST8Drop (pronounced straight drop).
“We know that they were involved in several physical attacks of residents in our county,” he said.
Police said that’s one reason they moved in. Federal law enforcement, state police and numerous local police departments were also in on the investigation.
Of the 18 people arrested, 8 are from St. Lawrence County, 1 is from Jefferson County and the rest are from Jersey City.
The following north country residents were arrested:
- Aquarra Weegar – 7/19/1995, Massena - Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 3rd degree (2-counts) - Class B felony (Awaiting arraignment)
- Devin Weller- 10/17/1983, Potsdam - Criminal Nuisance in the 1st degree- E felony (Released on appearance ticket)
- Lindsey Manchester- 12/10/1991, Potsdam - Criminal Nuisance in the 1st degree- E felony (Released on appearance ticket)
- Jerry Yerdon- 12/23/1986, Ogdensburg - Criminal Nuisance in the 1st degree- E- felony (Released on appearance ticket)
- Bridget Spriggs- 6/16/1982, Ogdensburg - Criminal Nuisance in the 1st degree- E- felony (Released on appearance ticket)
- Gerald Castle JR- 7/23/1987, Massena - Criminal Nuisance in the 1st degree- E- felony (Released on appearance ticket)
- Jessica McMahon- 2/11/1981- Massena- Criminal Nuisance in the 1st degree- E- felony (Released on appearance ticket)
- Rachel Durgan – 10/28/1990 – Ogdensburg- Criminal Nuisance in the 1st degree- E- felony (Released on appearance ticket)
- James Pribble – 05/21/1987- Ogdensburg - Criminal Nuisance in the 1st degree- E- felony (Released on appearance ticket)
A multi-agency task force conducted the early morning raids in Massena, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, Gouverneur, Watertown, and points in between.
“When the COVID-19 hit our area, they didn’t stop. They actually expanded their operations, which to me is a deplorable act,” said St. Lawrence County Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe.
Alleged gang members thought law enforcement wouldn't be watching because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“They definitely preyed on the limited traffic. They upped their game. But today I think it shows that we upped our game,” said Sean O’Brien, St. Lawrence County undersheriff.
Bigwarfe said the 200 officers who participated in the raid are from his department, state police, Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and local police departments.
Seven raids took place in St. Lawrence County and one in Watertown. One was at a front apartment at 21 Depot Street in Potsdam. Dean Barber was asleep in his apartment in back.
“I heard a loud bang...I just remember going to the window and looking out and seeing a bunch of cop cars and a guy with an assault rifle. So I just figured it was best too keep my head down,” he said.
Another raid was at an apartment on Boyd Street in Watertown.
See the full news release from sheriff’s office below. Scroll to the bottom to see the mug shots of the suspects.