September 17, 2008

Alleged Drug Dealers’ Arrests May Curb Local Trade

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The recent arrests of three local men associated with a cocaine-trafficking ring will make a “significant dent” on the drug trade in Tompkins County, District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson told The Ithaca Journal last Tuesday. Curtis Echols of Rochester, said to be the ring’s leader, along with his sons, Curtis McCool and Darrell L. Bailey, have been charged on about 30 counts of drug trafficking.
According to The Journal, Echols allegedly distributed cocaine to both Bailey and McCool, in addition to Kelly Keefe, an Ithaca resident who was arrested on charges of alleged ties to a cocaine ring two weeks ago.
Since June 18, the group, known as the “Echols Organization,” has been under electronic surveillance. Wiretap recordings indicated their plan to transport a small-caliber pistol from Rochester to Ithaca. On June 21, 20-year-old Bailey was arrested for allegedly shooting and wounding a man in Ithaca’s Parkside Apartments.
The same wiretap recordings indicate that the group was planning for Bailey to escape to New York City, according to court papers.
Echols, a Rochester native, was arrested on drug charges in 2005. Though Wilkinson said they are not sure when his organization began trafficking, she noted that Rochester has long been a source of drugs for the group, citing that “any little town will have people rotating in and out from the larger hubs of drug-trafficking.”
At a press conference at Ithaca Police Department Headquarters on Sept. 9, New York State Police Lt. Patrick J. Garey, attested that New York City generally serves as the source of narcotics for individuals in cities like Rochester, who then provide the drugs to people in smaller cities such as Ithaca.
It is unclear how much cocaine was being sold or how much money the ring generated, according to Wilkinson. However she asserted that cocaine is an ongoing problem on the streets of Ithaca.
“Cocaine poses a risk to society at many levels,” she told The Journal. “It’s very important to get it off the street.”