MAC’S MUSINGS: Massena-area cops make historic drug bust

Claude McIntosh

Talk about  playing a hunch … and hitting the jackpot.

It started when St. Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies on patrol decided to check on a driver parked in a car lot along Route 11 just south of Massena early one evening last week.

Just one of those routine traffic checks.

But this one quickly became anything but routine.

A few hours later when the cops finished unloading and weighing several bags of cocaine tucked away in a secret compartment built into the vehicle, they had one of the biggest drug busts ever made in Northern New York State. The haul weighed in at 47 kilos. A total value of $10 million ($13.4M Canadian). It could be one of the biggest single drug busts in the state’s recent history.

To put that in perspective, the total amount of cocaine seized over the last 10 years in SD and G and Cornwall probably hasn’t added up to $10 million.

It was like hitting the winning lottery numbers.

While talking to the driver, the sheriff’s deputies felt something was not right. So on a hunch they brought in a canine patrol that was in the area.

As Sheriff Kevin Wells put it, seconds out of the patrol car “the dog went crazy.”

“I always try to impress on our officers that it is not about the ticket but it is about the stop,” Sheriff Wells told the Watertown Times.

Cornwall Deputy Police Chief Danny Aikman concurs with the sheriff’s take on the value of checking out something suspicious.

“A traffic ticket (stop) can lead to criminal charges,” said Aikman.

In this case, major undercover drug operations covering months have turned up far less.

Wells pointed out the officers were not acting on a tip. The 25-year-old driver was not known to police.

Based on sentences handed out for some of the 33 persons charged in last year’s major undercover drug operation in St. Lawrence County, the 25-year-old man faces some serious federal prison time.

Guilty pleas resulted in some stiff sentences. A Massena man received 10 years. A Canton man was hit with 14 years. A man from New York City is facing 25 years to life when he is sentenced next month.

New York State takes the illegal drug trade far more seriously than it is taken on this side of the border.

St. Lawrence County law enforcement agencies have expressed alarm over the quantity of heroin and cocaine coming into their jurisdiction from New York City and Boston. They aren’t afraid to say the region has a serious drug problem. Whereas, many police officials on this side of the border are in denial.

On this side of the border, a hop, skip and jump away from St. Lawrence County, law enforcement treats cigarette smuggling as a bigger problem.

TRIVIA ANSWER    City council went to the bank on April 9, 1956 and borrowed $1.73 million for construction of a new water filtration plant. The cost included purchase of the Bronson farm. At the time, it was the most expensive taxpayer-funded project in Cornwall’s history.

TRIVIA   This dairy, which made home deliveries, was at 217 Third St. E.

HERE AND THERE    The federal Liberals shouldn’t be concerned about breaking a campaign promise or two. In fact, it might even help them in the next federal election. D. McFibber broke just about every promise he made to Ontario voters, including a signed pledge not to raise taxes, and he swept the polls. … They have found a mouse on Mars. Meanwhile, I can’t find the one living in my basement.

CAN’T MAKE IT UP FILE – Headline in a U.S. daily – “Man stuck in chimney dies during robbery attempt after homeowner lit fire”. And then there is this one, “Nurse bites off finger tips of attacker who snapped when mom died”.

SPORTS STUFF   One of the great Akwesasne lacrosse teams, the 1950 St. Regis Indians, was inducted into the Akwesasne Lacrosse Hall of Fame on Nov. 21: Shine George, Enos Hemlock, Angus Thomas, John Seymour, Roonie Roundpoint, Bobby Sunday, Mitchell Peters, Levi Thomas, Freeman Jacobs, Abe Thomas, Pete Burns Sr., Wilfred David, Colin Chisolm, Gilbert Roundpoint, Joseph “Jiggy” Sunday, Wally Roundpoint, Walter Delormier, Bobby Cook, Benny Roundpoint, Joe Cook, James Caldwell.

THIS AND THAT   Folks in Akwesasne extended a helping hand to the Cornwall Choice Taxi driver who was beaten and robbed while delivering a fare to Cornwall Island. A donation box jar was set up at No. 9 Truck Stop to collect money for the driver, who has a wife and four kids to support. Akwesasne cops made a quick arrest of two suspects.  

THIS AND THAT (2)     Other than firefighters, is there another profession that works 24-hour shifts (seven days a month)? The key word here is “works” as in awake doing the job. It is a unique situation unavailable to other professions and gives new meaning to condensed work schedules.  Heck, you could hold down a part-time job, or run a business on the side.

IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR      A case could be made that the Millennial generation has been shortchanged when it comes to role models. Where Baby Boomers had Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Ann Margret, Fabian and Connie Stevens, the Millennials have Justin Bieber, the Kardashians, Milley Cirus and Lindsay Lohan. … Back in the days when teens went to the Knights of Columbus dance on Friday night and St. Columban’s Hall on Saturday night. Msgr. R. J. MacDonald, parish pastor,  would put in an appearance. Couples a little too close for a slow tune could expect a tap on the shoulder from the priest. … Olivia de Havilland, who played Melanie in “Gone With the Wind” (1939) is last surviving member of the cast. She’s 99. Other actors in the 90-plus club are Hal Holbrook and George Kennedy (both 90), Eva Marie Saint (91), Doris Day (93) and Abe Vigoda (94). … If you were born on this date in 1945:  A new car sold for $1,025 (no sales tax), a gallon of gas was 15 cents (you got your oil checked and windshield cleaned), you could purchase a new house for $4,625 (no tax), a loaf of bread was nine cents and a gallon of milk was 62 cents. Average annual family income was $2,390. One other thing. Chances of making it to retirement age (65) not so good. Male life expectancy was 63 years. Yup, the good old days.

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