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

How law officials were able to track down and arrest those involved in the Latham operation is a feat in itself, Heider said, and one that should be commended.

However, the fact that the organization, as careful as it was, was able to ferry in tens of thousands of dollars in cocaine and crack -- like it did and where it did -- chances are there are others doing it in the safety of the suburban outskirts of Albany, said Heider.

"This isn't the first time, and it wont be the last time. Sometimes the drug fight in suburbia is tougher than it is in the inner city," said Heider.

Typically Colonie's hotels have been a hotbed of drug activity, and busts are a weekly occurrence. Rarely do the operations reach the scale of the one had tucked away in a Latham suburb. But more and more business-savvy dealers like Montalvo's, who ferried drugs from New York City to the Albany area, are setting up shop in the safety of suburbia.

They don't deal with street-level people, they are out of reach of the violence associated with competitors in the cities, and they bring less attention to themselves, said Heider.

At the beginning of the investigation six months ago, officials did not yet know they were dealing with an organized unit, said Galerneau. It wasn't until investigators began to notice commonalities among low-level drug transaction arrests in the area that they began putting the pieces together.

He wouldn't say what led investigators to the Latham home, but once the home was identified, it was placed under surveillance and officials watched the drug ring's weekly operations unfold.

"The investigation encompassed more law enforcement agencies as it progressed," said Galerneau.

The collaboration among several state and federal agencies was key in the investigation and arrests.

The matter of trying the 10 suspects in court has been left to federal prosecutors. So far all 10 have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Calls to the United States Attorneys Office regarding the case have not been returned.

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