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Three Indicted on Drug Conspiracy Linked to CA Murder

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A pair arrested in Cortland last year with four pounds of meth and a loaded handgun were indicted Saturday (February 15) on federal drug conspiracy charges – along with a third man from Madison County, suspected with the first man in a CA murder prosecutors say is linked to the drugs found during the Cortland arrest.

Kyle Leeper, of Palmyra, PA and Arlene Rodriguez, of Montebello, CA, both aged thirty-six, were first arrested last February by officers with the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department. Their original charges were dismissed with Saturday’s indictment.

The third defendant, 28-year-old Ramon Nieves Cotto, of Deruyter, NY, was arrested just this past Friday and arraigned in Syracuse by a federal judge.

He and Leeper are accuse of shooting and killing of a man in Barstow, CA on January 17, 2019, which federal prosecutors say led them to possess the drugs found during the original arrest in Cortland a month later.

Under the combined murder and drug conspiracy chargers, Leeper and Cotto face 20 years to life in prison, with an extreme, yet legal, possibility of getting the death penalty.

The other charges, which Rodriguez also faces, carry anywhere from five years to life in prison and up to $10M fines.

The case is now being handled by the U.S. Department of Justice, which received assistance from local authorities, along with members of the FBI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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