Penn Yan man identified as 'accomplice' in major Rhode Island drug bust

Staff reports
Kevin A. Bissel

A Penn Yan man has been arrested in connection with a major drug arrest operation in Rhode Island.

Kevin A. Bissel, 53, 153 Main St., Penn Yan was arrested on May 20 as part of the work done by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force. In the press release issued by Rhode Island officials following the arrests, Bissel was identified as an accomplice to the main target, Franklin Then-Bello, 36.

Bissel, was charged with possession of cocaine 1 oz. to 1 kilo and possession of cocaine with intent to deliver. At the time of his arrest, Bissel possessed approximately 150 grams of cocaine as well as drug packaging paraphernalia.

He is being held without bail in the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, R.I., according to John Flaherty of the Rhode Island State Police.

The investigation into the large-scale cocaine trafficking organization begin in December 2010.

During the investigation, the task force identified Then-Bello as well as his customer base. Officials determined that cocaine was being distributed throughout the City of Providence using two vehicles containing elaborate, electronically operated, hidden compartments.

In April the task force received authorization from the Rhode Island Superior Court to intercept cell phone calls. The task force ultimately intercepted over 1100 phone calls that led to identifying numerous customers.

During Then-Bello's May 18 arrest, officers confiscated approximately 800 grams of cocaine, drug packaging paraphernalia and two motor vehicles with hidden compartments were seized. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detainer was also placed on Franklin Then-Bello for Illegal Reentry after Deportation.

On June 3, numerous arrest warrants were executed around the state of Rhode Island, and 13 other individuals were arrested. Most were charged with one or two counds to soliciting another to commit a crime. One Worcester, Mass. man was charged with one count of possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver.

The operation, referred to as "Operation Under the Radar" was conducted with the assistance of the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office.

The HIDTA Task Force is comprised of members from the Rhode Island State Police, Providence Police, North Providence Police, Pawtucket Police, Johnston Police, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Rhode Island National Guard. Members of the Massachusetts’s State Police also assisted in the investigation.