UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Numerous people are facing federal charges in connection to drug trafficking conspiracies operating in the City of Utica.

Two indictments unsealed in Federal Court in Syracuse on Wednesday charge 18 people with being members of two drug trafficking conspiracies operating in Utica.

According to the indictments, the groups trafficked cocaine and crack and the individuals involved have been charged with conspiring to distribute the drugs from Summer 2011 through June 26, 2012. Some of those charged are named in more than one indictment.

In one indictment, labeled "U.S. v. Sean Hagans, et al," the following people were charged:

 
In the second indictment, labeled "U.S. V. Reid Sook, et al," the following people were charged:


The indictment further alleges that Michael Lynch, who is a local car dealer, operating Southside Auto on Whitesboro Street in Utica, allowed the property to be used as a drug distribution center, as well as laundering funds for drug dealers through the buying and selling of cars and structuring cash deposits from the dealership to avoid bank cash reporting requirements.

"Southside Auto was used as a headquarters for this cocaine trafficking operation.  While the dealing, money laundering and concealment occurred at the dealership and other locations in Utica, the suppliers communicated via Facebook to move their cocaine across state and international lines," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell. "The New York State Police/CNET initiated this investigation two years ago, resulting in the creation of a task force with DEA, IRS/CID, USMS, UPD and the OCSO and I commend their hard work. This team worked together every step of the way to dismantle this cocaine distribution and money laundering organization, a public enemy to our law abiding families and neighbors in Utica who deserve to live in a safe and drug free community."

Federal officials said the United States seeks the forfeiture of the Southside Auto property.

During the course of the investigation, officials say court-authorized wiretaps were obtained for seven telephone lines used by the Hagans and Sook organizations from May 1, 2012 to July 1, 2012. On June 26, 2012 Sook was arrested and five federal search warrants were executed in the City of Utica, resulting in the seizure of roughly $20,000 in cash, two vehicles and a large quantity of prescription pills. On July 18, 2012 two additional federal search warrants were executed in the City of Utica resulting in the seizure of 15 ounces of cocaine, approximately $7,000 and three motor vehicles as well as documents related to financial crimes.     
 
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, if convicted, each defendant charged in the first count of their respective indictments faces a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment and a maximum of a life sentence, a $10 million fine, and at least five years of supervised release following any period of incarceration. Lynch faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for the charges he faces, a fine of $2 million and period of three years of supervised release.   

Wednesday's arrests are of those individuals who were principally involved the distribution of cocaine in the Utica area. However officials said in something that was unique to this particular case is that investigators were also able to identify their suppliers and associates.  This aspect of the investigation resulted in the arrest and indictment of an additional twelve people in December 2012:


Authorities said that during this phase of the investigation, which took place from September through November 2012, court-authorized wiretaps and surveillance techniques were utilized and search warrants were executed in Utica as well as in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This resulted in the seizure of approximately 17 kilograms of powdered cocaine, $37,000 in cash, five vehicles, and prescription drugs.

"The cooperative efforts of all the law enforcement agencies involved have resulted in the take-down of local drug wholesalers, mid-level distributors and most importantly, their suppliers. I commend the tireless efforts of every law enforcement officer in making this community a safer place to live, work and raise families," said U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.

The prosecution resulted from a long-term investigation conducted by the DEA Syracuse Resident Office, The New York State Police-Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and other agencies, including U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations("HSI')-Albany Office, The City of Utica Police Department, the Oneida County Sheriffs Department, DEA Resident Office-Allentown, Pa., and DEA New York City Group T-12.