Lockport man convicted by federal jury of narcotics conspiracy tied to the El Chapo Mexican drug cartel going to prison for 25 years

 

Date: December 4, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Buffalo, N.Y. — Troy R. Gillon of Lockport, NY, was convicted of narcotics conspiracy following an eight week jury trial, was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan A. Tokash, who handled the prosecution of the case, stated that Gillon was a member of a transnational drug trafficking organization, led by co-defendant Herman E. Aguirre, that utilized contacts and a source of supply whose territory included Mexico, Arizona, California, and elsewhere. The source of supply was the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada.

The local organization trafficked thousands of kilograms of illegal narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine throughout the United States, including Lockport, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo, via the mail, individual vehicles outfitted with "trap" compartments, and on pallets loaded on tractor trailers. Members of the organization created fictitious "front" companies to launder drug proceeds including Triton Foods, Inc., Kamora Investment Enterprises, Inc. and Fresh Choice Produce, all of which were incorporated in the State of California. Another fictitious company, Corral Seafoods, LLC, registered in the State of New York, was allegedly located in Cheektowaga, NY, but proved to be completely fake.

Using these companies, Gillon and his co-defendants disguised kilogram quantities of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine on pallets described on inventory and other documents as containing "Sea Cucumbers." Evidence presented by the Government at trial showed that sea cucumbers are commonly found in Southeast Asia and Europe but rarely, if ever, in Western New York State. The pallets bearing the illegal narcotics were secreted in containers sealed with foam or spray insulation to avoid detection by law enforcement.

Members of the organization also utilized numerous bank accounts at local Bank of America branches to deposit illegal drug proceeds. Local members of the drug trafficking organization deposited over $19,000,000 of illegal drug proceeds into these fake seafood accounts, while California conspirators created false invoices to make it look like Western New Yorkers were buying sea cucumbers at astounding rates and quantities. The Western New York Asset Protection Manager of Wegman's Food Markets, Inc. testified at the trial that none of its 13 Western New York stores have ever carried sea cucumbers because there is no demand for the product in Buffalo and the surrounding areas.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers seized over $5,000,000 worth of illegal narcotics, including:

  • 52.5 kilograms of cocaine;
  • 17.5 kilograms of heroin; and
  • 8.5 kilograms of fentanyl

Using standard dosage amounts, the seized drugs potentially represented over 1,500,000 "hits" of cocaine, and 2,700,000 "hits" of heroin and considering that two milligrams of fentanyl can be a lethal dose, enough fentanyl potentially to kill over four million people. Further evidence presented by the Government at trial revealed that after a December 2014 meeting in Buffalo, defendant Aguirre shipped 10 kilograms of fentanyl to Buffalo and defendant Gillon took possession of the 10 kilograms. Gillon sold two kilograms of the fentanyl before residents of the Lockport area started overdosing on the drug shortly after New Year's Day, 2015. A DEA representative testified that Gillon told police that he returned the remaining eight kilograms to a co-conspirator in early March 2015 because, "People are dying off this (expletive)." The co-conspirator moved the remaining fentanyl, along with two kilograms of cocaine, and 22 kilograms of heroin, to a house on Folger Street in the City of Buffalo. On March 23, 2015, Buffalo Police seized 32 kilograms of drugs from the Folger Street location—including Gillon's eight kilograms of fentanyl.

The investigation further determined that between June 2013 and September 2015, members of the organization additionally distributed over 5,000 pounds of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and marijuana in the Western New York area. Approximately $20,000,000 was sent from Western New York banks to California in a two year period of time.

Herman Aguirre was also convicted at trial of narcotics conspiracy, as well as operating a continuing criminal enterprise and money laundering conspiracy, and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 23, 2021. A total of 18 defendants were charged and convicted in this case.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special-Agent-in Charge Kevin Kelly; the Niagara County Drug Task Force, under the direction of Sheriff Michael Filicetti; the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood; the Lockport Police Department, under the direction of Chief Steven Abbott; the Montebello, California Police Department; the Nebraska State Patrol; and the DEA, Los Angeles.