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4 plead guilty to operating cocaine ring in Lockport

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Four people have pleaded guilty in what authorities are calling a "large drug trafficking organization operating out of Lockport."

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Kurtis Washington and Darius Dix, both 27, and Rico Freeman, 34 - all of Lockport - along with Ramone Westbrook, 35 of Niagara Falls, are facing up to life in prison and a $20 million fine after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan Tokash said between May 2016 and June 2017, Westbrook operated "a high-traffic and extremely profitable distribution network" out of a Whitney Avenue home in Niagara Falls from several suppliers in Niagara Falls, New York City, Atlanta and North Carolina. Westbrook then supplied drugs to Freeman to sell.

Tokash said a search of the home May 24 recovered drugs, more than $22,000 in cash and paraphernalia. She said Washington and Dix were arrested after selling drugs to police confidential informants.

Freeman is scheduled to be sentenced on August 6. Sentencing for the remaining defendants will be at a later date.