Buffalo man pleads guilty to drug smuggling conspiracy charges

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BUFFALO, N.Y. – An Arizona man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and marijuana, as well as a separate charge of money laundering conspiracy, Wednesday in Buffalo. The guilty plea follows a joint investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), with significant assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and HSI Buffalo’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST).

Shane Grafman, 29, of Prescott, Ariz., faces between 10 years and life in prison and a fine of $11,342,000. As part of his plea, Grafman admitted he distributed more than 220 pounds of cocaine and more than a ton of marijuana during the course of his crimes.

According to prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York, Grafman conspired with others to distribute cocaine and marijuana between April 2009 and February 2012. The defendants obtained the narcotics in Arizona, and then utilized several methods to send the marijuana and cocaine to the Buffalo area, including cars, trucks, shipping crates and U.S. Postal Service parcels. Grafman also used private jets to travel from Arizona to Buffalo to pick up his drug proceeds.

During the investigation, law enforcement officers seized approximately $1 million in U.S. currency, including $671,385 from a hidden compartment within a Honda Ridgeline driven by Grafman.

Grafman was arrested in February 2012. Other defendants charged in the case include Elijah Chaffino, of Tempe, Ariz., who has been convicted and awaits sentencing. Charges are still pending against defendants Jordan Ali, formerly of Alden, Jason Nati, of Buffalo, and Jacquelyn Witman, formerly of Buffalo, now residing in the Atlanta area. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

In addition to HSI and the DEA, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Service Inspection Service, the FBI, the Buffalo Police Department, the Erie County Sheriff's Department, the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority, the Tempe Police Department, the Apache County Sheriff's Department and the Oklahoma State Police all provided assistance in this case.

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