Ellenville's Big Bust Was Years In The Making, A Coordinated Effort Across A Host Of Agencies
ELLENVILLE – On Friday, December 7, Ellenville Police Chief Phil Mattracion hosted a press conference to highlight one of the biggest drug sweeps in the village's history.
A total of twenty-one defendants had been picked up that day and arraigned on a vast variety of charges relating to the sale of drugs, such as Oxycontin, other prescription painkillers, as well as heroin, cocaine and cannabis.
Flanking Mattracion were Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum and members of the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team (URGENT).
The arrests were made in a wide set of early morning raids throughout Ellenville and Wawarsing. Among the people arrested were Garvey Marmol, 27, nicknamed "Joker," at 61 Center Street, Jose Rodriguez, 30, nicknamed "Chops" from 42 Market Street, and Vincent Giammichele, of 7128 Route 209, Wawarsing.
Chief Mattracion explained that the case had taken more than a year to put together.
"People come up to me in the town and complain about drug dealers, and I can't say anything because in the background, we're working on it and I can't let that out," he said. "A case like this takes a lot of work."
A number of agencies came together, bringing resources from the US Marshall's Service NY/NJ Fugitive Task Force, the Ulster County Emergency Response Team, the Ulster County Sheriff's Office of Corrections, as well Ellenville Police and members of URGENT.
"A lot of things go into an investigation like this," Mattracion continued. "I liken it to making a pot of Italian sauce. You throw in a lot of ingredients. So we work off of information we receive from the public, from our informants, as well as what our street officers observe and report. Then you have the task of getting all your facts together. That takes time, but it must be done."
Sheriff Van Blarcum commented that, "All these resources come together just for that last day, when we make arrests. Prior to that, over the preceding year or so, URGENT, working with the Ellenville Police Department, had made multiple drug buys. Each of the people we picked up had sold drugs at least three times to undercover officers. So, we know that this wasn't a casual thing for them."
Van Blarcum added, "We work with agencies all across the country. We made a big bust on drugs from Arizona a couple years ago. Drugs come from all over these days and the southwest is an obvious source. Locally, we work closely with Orange County and Sullivan County Sheriff's offices. We constantly exchange information. Our sources for that are pretty wide, and they include monitoring prisoner phone calls at the county jail. Prisoners are told that the calls will be recorded and listened to, and they still give up information. Sometimes they try to use code on the phone, but our intelligence unit gets to work on that, too."
Van Blarcum noted that life is getting harder for drug dealers in Ulster County.
"Judge Don Williams is giving everyone jail time. From the big gang bust last winter, 78 of 80 arrests went to jail. The word gets out, drug dealers in Ulster County will get jail," Van Blarcum added. "Every arrest like this provides a certain amount of information. It may not be direct to anything, but it all gets analyzed and helps us pinpoint the next area of interest."
Chief Mattracion commented, "Ellenville is not unlike any other community. We all have our share of drug dealers and drug users. I don't see it as having pandemic proportions here, but we are talking about a societal problem."
Asked about the two men arrested who are gang members, one a Blood and one a Crip, Mattracion said, "These are self-proclaimed gang members. The gang thing is not a big concern here in Ellenville. This is a town where we know everybody and everything that happens. If gang members come in from another community we'd know about it very soon."
"I'd like to make sure the public understands how this works," the Village Police Chief and Ellenville School Board member concluded. "If you think nothing is being done about a drug situation, well, there is something being done. But like any prosecution it is evidence-based, and it takes time to gather that evidence. Now, I'm not naive enough to claim that this is the end of drugs in Ellenville. But with this major, collaborative effort we've put a dent in the supply at this point."