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Buffalo man pleads guilty in drug conspiracy

STAFF REPORTS


BUFFALO -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Maulana Lucas, 43, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, one kilogram or more of heroin, five kilograms or more of cocaine, and 400 grams or more of fentanyl, before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $20,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meghan A. Tokash and Michael P. Felicetta, who are handling the case, stated that between January 2013 and September 2015, the defendant and his girlfriend formed a relationship with co-defendant Darryl Williams to assist Williams with receiving drug shipments from California, distributing the drugs, and collecting proceeds the Western District of New York and elsewhere. In the Western District of New York alone, the defendant assisted in collecting a total of approximately $19,000,000 in cash in drug proceeds.
         
In May 2014, as part of the conspiracy, Lucas was directed by co-defendant Williams to meet with another co-defendant, Sonia Hernandez, to receive kilograms of cocaine.
         
From July 15, 2014, through March 18, 2015, Lucas received 29 pallets of shipments of illegal drugs from Herman Aguirre. Each pallet contained a mixture of approximately 30-50 kilograms of cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. The drugs were then distributed in the Western District of New York and in other cities and states. The defendant assisted in breaking down pallets of drugs and in collecting drug proceeds from surrounding states. The drugs were shipped in crates or pallets, disguised as microwaves or furniture. The drugs were unloaded at a local warehouse. Lucas also directed his girlfriend to store kilograms of drugs in the bedroom of her apartment in the Western District of New York.
         
On March 23, 2015, Buffalo Police seized 22 kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of heroin, and eight kilograms of fentanyl at the defendant’s girlfriend’s apartment.

Lucas was arrested in August 2016 along with 16 other defendants. To date, two of the defendants have been convicted. 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; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of James D. Robnett.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 25, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. before Judge Vilardo.