MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- A city fire official has been charged with being a major drug trafficker as the ringleader of a cocaine-dealing motorcycle club and another operation that sold pills containing fentanyl in upstate New York, state police said Tuesday.
Lt. Paul Smith, 48, of the Middletown Fire Department was among 29 people charged in the culmination of a six-month drug investigation, police said. Most were arrested in early morning raids in Orange and Rockland counties.
Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano said Smith, a 19-year veteran with a prominent role as shift supervisor and training officer, was immediately suspended without pay.
"It's very disturbing that a man sworn to save lives is at the epicenter of a drug ring aimed at destroying lives," DeStefano said, noting that some of the drug deals were allegedly made at the fire house. He said the city is conducting its own investigation.
Officials did not have the name of Smith's lawyer to comment on his behalf.
A former town police officer was also among those arrested.
The raids recovered more than $200,000 in cash, 25 handguns, multiple rifles, ten vehicles, two motorcycles, more than 2.5 pounds (0.45 kilograms) of cocaine and 1,300 fentanyl pills, police said.
State police said the investigation targeted two separate operations. One involved members and associates of self-described "outlaw" motorcycle clubs trafficking cocaine and the other involved the sale of pills marketed as oxycodone but actually containing highly addictive and often lethal fentanyl.
The FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency assisted in the investigation.
This story has been corrected to show that 29 were charged, not all arrested.