Firefighters and ex-cops among 29 arrested in drug sweep

Posted: Updated:

Prominent local firefighters and ex-police officers were among the 29 people swept up in early morning drug raids on Tuesday.

After a six-month investigation dubbed "Bread, White and Blues," New York State Police, DEA and FBI agents conducted more than a dozen raids from West Nyack in Rockland County to the Middletown Fire Department in Orange County.

MORE: Police: Man arrested in Nyack raid was major drug trafficker

Authorities say they recovered more than $200,000, handguns, rifles and nearly 3 pounds of cocaine and 1,300 fentanyl pills. Investigators say they found the fentanyl inside oxycodone pills, making for a deadly combination.

According to the authorities, Middletown Fire Department Lt. Paul Smith was a major player in a drug ring, supplying cocaine and fentanyl through outlaw motorcycle clubs across the Hudson Valley. Also arrested were Mechanicstown Fire Chief Dominick Guardino, Mechanicstown volunteer firefighter Robert Dunham, and two former members of law enforcement. John Beltempo, who once worked with the Orange County Sheriff's Office assigned to narcotics, and former Walden Police Officer George Thomas are accused of conspiracy to sell cocaine.

Mayor Joe Destefano says a full internal investigation is underway to determine how Lt. Paul Smith could have allegedly conducted drug-related meetings and sales at the city's main firehouse without anyone knowing.

Destefano says Smith, as shift leader, has had control over the fire department's crews and assigned tasks and used that to his advantage. The city is looking now to tighten its policies on who is allowed inside the firehouse, as well as increasing staff oversight and installing cameras, Destefano says.



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