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Chief: Recent Latham drug arrests to have little impact on trade

From the 6 Utica Ave. property, members of the ring allegedly solicited orders over the phone that were then filled by deliveries to various locations throughout the region. Officials said they believe the sales were directed at sellers in the city of Albany.

From information gathered during surveillance, officials estimated the operation grossed $30,000 in December 2006 by moving a kilogram of cocaine over a four-day span.

Any activity in or about the Latham staging area was apparently low-key with most neighbors saying they had no idea a lucrative drug operation was based just down the street.

"I never saw a car in the driveway or a light on in that place," said a Utica Avenue resident, who lives at the southern end of Utica Avenue, or "new" Utica Avenue as it is often referred to, he added.

"It is kind of surprising (that the operation was there), but nothing shocks me anymore," he said, adding that the property that housed the alleged drug activity sat near the entrance of Utica Avenue in the shadows of the Latham Water District's two water tanks, and was known as "the shack."

Most of the neighborhood is made up of newer homes and many first-time homeowners who have children enrolled in the North Colonie School District's grade schools.

The fact that Montalvo and his counterparts were smart enough not to avoid bringing attention to themselves shows how hard it is these days to get a jump on drug suppliers, said Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider, who headed the department's narcotics team in 1982 at the apex of the cocaine craze in the United States.

Colonie police were aware of the Latham investigation, but none of their officers assisted in the arrests.

Police usually rely on informants or neighbors who notice unusual activity to take down drug rings, Heider said, but those elements were missing in Montalvo's sophisticated operation.

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