Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of New York
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
, United States Attorney
William J. Hochul, Jr.
Contact: Barbara Burns
Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty to Gun and Drug Charges Involving a Homicide
New York Field Division# # #
BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Alexander Duarte, 23, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to discharge of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and conspiracy to distribute heroin before U.S District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life and a $250,000 fine.
“This case demonstrates yet again the violence frequently associated with the illegal narcotics trade,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas S. Duszkiewicz and Joel L. Violanti, who are handling the case, stated that in June 2012, Duarte, co-defendant Jose L. Ramirez-Merced and others sold heroin on the West Side of Buffalo. On July 15, 2012, the group planned a home invasion robbery targeting the residence of heroin dealer Jose Rivera. However, the defendants and others invaded the wrong residence and stole cocaine and cash.
As a result, Jose Rivera began making threats against individuals in the group and attempted to kill one of the individuals known as L.B. In response, the group decided to murder Rivera. On July 31, 2012, Duarte and Merced obtained two guns and proceeded to a residence on West Avenue in Buffalo where they opened fire, killing Rivera and wounding a female.
Today’s plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda. The task force includes representatives of the Amherst Police Department; the Buffalo Police Department; U.S. Border Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Cheektowaga Police Department; the Erie County Sheriff’s Department; the Hamburg Police Department; the Lancaster Police Department; the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police; the New York State Department of Correctional Services; the New York State Police; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 12, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. before Judge Vilardo. Merced was also convicted and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 7, 2016 before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.