Dunkirk Pair Appear In US District Court On Drug Charges

Two Dunkirk residents have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute; distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine; and maintaining a drug-involved premises.

Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced charges Tuesday against Minerva Maestre, 49, and Hector Mercado-Torres, 23, both of Dunkirk. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who is handling the case, said according to the complaint, on April 28, the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at Maestre and Torres’ residence 51 E. Second St., Dunkirk. During the search, officers reportedly seized 18 packages of suspected crack cocaine and cocaine, plastic baggies and $171,962 in cash. The complaint further alleges that defendants distributed crack cocaine from the residence.

The defendants made an initial appearance Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and are being held pending a detention hearing.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, under the direction of Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace, the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; and the Dunkirk Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Ortolano.