Drug kingpin known as "Flip" arraigned in Otsego County

By WKTV News

OTSEGO COUNTY, N.Y. - Authorities say they expect more arrests after the Otsego County arraignment of a man known as "Flip," who they say was a "drug kingpin."

Otsego County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration Wilbert L. Plummer, Oneonta Police Chief Dennis R. Nayor and Otsego County District Attorney John Michael Muehl announce the arrests of convicted drug kingpin Jose Alberto Rodriguez a/k/a "Flip", 29, formerly of the Bronx and his girlfriend, Jamele Tomika Baez, 21, also formerly of the Bronx.

Over the past year, the Otsego County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division, the Otsego County District Attorney's Office, the Oneonta City Police Department Detective Bureau and the Albany District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration have been investigating the illegal trafficking of heroin throughout Otsego County. A variety of investigative techniques were used by law enforcement personnel throughout the ongoing investigation.

On September 20, 2011, a quantity of heroin was purchased from Baez in the City of Oneonta, NY during the drug investigation that was conducted by the OCSO CID, OPD and DEA.

In October 2011, convicted drug lord and inmate Jose "Flip" Rodriguez ran his drug trafficking organization from the Otsego County Correctional Facility in the Town of Middlefield, NY. Investigation by the OCSO CID and DEA showed that Rodriguez acted in concert and agreed with others to knowing and unlawfully possessing oxycodone powder, a narcotic drug, with the intent to sell the narcotic drug in Otsego County.

In December 2011, Baez was subsequently indicted by the Otsego County Grand Jury on a single count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class B felony punishable up to nine years in prison, for her involvement in the September heroin sale.

On December 22, 2011 Baez was arrested by law enforcement personnel on a sealed indictment warrant of arrest for the CSCS 3rd charge after she left her boyfriend Jose Rodriguez's Otsego County Court sentencing where he received 40 years of incarceration from Judge Brian D. Burns for operating a major trafficking organization and four counts of CSCS 3rd from a previous heroin distribution investigation. That afternoon Baez was arraigned by County Court Judge Brain D. Burns and remanded to the Otsego County Correctional Facility on $75,000 bail.

On December 22, 2011 the OCSO CID obtained a search warrant for an apartment and a safe deposit box in the Bronx, NY. The search warrant was signed by Otsego County Court Judge John F. Lambert.

On December 27, 2011 Sheriff's Office investigators and DEA Special Agents from Albany and New York City executed the search warrant on Rodriguez's father's apartment and a safe deposit box in the Bronx. $12,500 in U.S. currency and drug ledgers were among items seized that afternoon.

On May 11, 2012 Baez pled guilty to attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class C felony, and was sentenced to a determinate sentence of five years of incarceration and two years of post release supervision. Later that month, she was transferred to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, NY to serve her sentence.

In May 2012, Rodriguez was indicted by the Otsego County Grand Jury on criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and conspiracy in the fourth degree, both felonies, for his involvement in the October 2011 drug distribution of the oxycodone powder.

On June 29th, Rodriguez was brought from the Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, NY to the Otsego County Court for his arraignment. He was arraigned by Judge Brian D. Burns and remanded back to NYS DOCS custody. Rodriguez is scheduled to reappear in the Otsego County Court on August 3rd at 9:30 a.m. He faces up to 15 years to life in prison due to his 2007 and 2011 felony drug convictions.

Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr stated, "This indictment provides a window into the "business" of the illegal drug trade. Rather than being dissuaded from criminal activity, the defendant continued to execute a drug distribution enterprise while behind bars. It was only through the continued and diligent efforts of the investigators involved that this case materialized."

DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Wilbert L. Plummer stated, "Some defendants think they can hide behind bars, but this investigation led us to uncovering an ongoing drug trafficking organization that worked in the cells illegally. Through federal, state and local law enforcement collaboration we were able to identify, investigate and arrest those responsible for distributing drugs for profit."

Sheriff Devlin, Jr concluded, "Successful multi-agency efforts like this, illustrate the impressive investigative skills devoted to this case. Such a collaborative effort is critically dependant on case management and communications with all the agencies involved. As with everything we do, success is only achieved with the continued support and cooperation of our local and federal counterparts."

The narcotics trafficking investigation is continuing and further arrests are expected.

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