(STL.News) – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Joseph Bella, 47, of Buffalo, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute cocaine; maintaining a drug involved premises; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and being both a felon and an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $1,000,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who is handling the case, stated that the according to the complaint, on April 23, 2020, Special Agents and Officers from Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Buffalo Police Department executed a search warrant at a residence on Summer Street in Buffalo. The defendant was present during the execution of the search warrant.
During the search, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent and K-9 performed a K-9 sniff of the residence. The K-9 alerted to a small locked metal box in the bedroom of the residence. The box contained plastic bag of white powder weighing approximately 63 grams of suspected cocaine, additional plastic bags, and a digital scale. Agents also discovered a shotgun and numerous rounds of ammunition in a wardrobe in the same bedroom where the cocaine was found. In addition, agents recovered THC gummies, lollipops, and other THC edibles; marijuana cigarettes and loose marijuana; THC vape cartridges; suspected Psilocybin mushrooms; an additional bag containing cocaine; a small quantity of MDMA; various pills; and THC resin. The investigation has determined that the defendant has been involved in the distribution of controlled substances for at least four years in the Buffalo area.
In April 2011, Bella was convicted of cocaine possession and destruction of evidence Lake County, Florida. As a result, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm and ammunition.
“This investigation should serve as yet another warning to would be criminals that despite the lockdown, the investigative efforts of law enforcement continue unabated,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Our office and the investigative agencies with whom we work are not quarantined, and pandemic or not, we will continue to deliver justice to those who commit crimes.”
“HSI and our law enforcement partners in Western New York are united in our resolve to protect our communities through this public health crisis,” said Kevin Kelly, Special Agent-in-Charge for HSI Buffalo. “HSI will continue working with our law enforcement partners to investigate and, ultimately, dismantle criminal organizations that engage in illegal and illicit activity.”
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy; Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Unit, under the direction of Director Brian Manaher; U.S. Border Patrol, under the direction of Chief Patrol Agent Eduardo Payan; the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division; the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division; and Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood.