Former University of Buffalo basketball player Rodney Pierce was one of four people arrested Tuesday in a Buffalo drug-trafficking bust.
Pierce, 32, was arrested and charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams “or more” of cocaine. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and maximum of 40 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. also announced the indictment of David Washington, 39, Eleazar Martinez Medina, 50, and David Burgin, 47, who is Pierce’s uncle. David Washington, 39, and David Burgin, 47, both of Buffalo, is described as being at the top of the distribution network.
Authorities in Buffalo have been investigating Washington and Burgin for two years.
But the takedown began last Wednesday, Feb. 19, with actions by the Buffalo Police Department and the Erie County Sheriff's Office.
Court records show those agencies conducted raids at two residences in Buffalo following a traffic stop that yielded 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, "a quantity of marijuana," $50,000 in U.S. currency, guns, ammunition and items used for packaging drugs, including scales and cutting agents.
That led authorities to Pierce, then to Burgin, and a house at 56 Grimes St. A raid there turned up two handguns and two rifles, $250,000 in cash, cocaine, fentanyl, scales, sealers and packaging material. Photos of the items, including what looked like white powder inside plastic containers.
Search warrants were also executed at 79 Brunswick Blvd., 2896 Bailey Ave., 73 Rogers Ave. and 69 Bennett Village Terrace. Swat teams that raided the houses encountered "hydraulic traps" which were used to conceal bundles of cash, guns, and even a room behind a false wall.
Authorities ended up seizing more than six firearms, ammunition, marijuana, over 7.5 kilograms of suspected cocaine and crack cocaine, over two kilograms of fentanyl, over $750,000 in cash, six “traps,” scales and drug packaging materials.
In a press conference Tuesday, Kennedy said the seized fentanyl was enough “to wipe out the population of Erie County.”
Pierce attended Hutchinson Central Technical High School in Buffalo, where he became the 17th highest scoring player in Western New York history. He committed to Rider University, before transferring to UB.
Pierce was a member of the UB basketball team from 2006 to 2010. He was named first-team All-MAC in 2009 and 2010. He led the team in scoring and started every game those two seasons.
Burgin and Pierce made initial appearances in court and were released on conditions.