Concluding months of police investigation, Erie County Sheriff’s detectives apprehended Chandra Zittel of Concord on Tuesday, April 5 at 12:35 a.m. About 1,000 prescription pain pills were found bottled up all throughout Zittel’s home at 10590 Old Trevett Road, drugs which were immediately turned over to the proper authorities. “They were all submitted to the Erie County Police Services laboratory for identification and analysis,” said Senior Narcotics Detective Alan Rozansky, lead detective of this case.
Zittel is facing charges on two B-felony accounts: criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell in the third degree. She was arraigned on Wednesday, April 6 and is currently out on bail, awaiting sentencing from the district attorney’s office and the hearing judge, according to Rozansky.
Investigation into the unemployed Zittel’s operation began more than two years ago after her husband Garrett died of a heroin overdose in 2008. Detective work regarding his death led to inquiry into Chandra Zittel, a case that had intensified over the last few months and culminated last week with a police raid of her farmhouse.
The narcotics, which were mostly opioids including hydrocodone, methadone and oxycodone, were being acquired in a couple of different ways. “[She secured them] through opioid prescriptions by local doctors and off the streets of Buffalo, illegally,” said Rozansky. Zittel received a majority of the drugs through prescriptions from at least two physicians, even though she lacked any legitimate medical need for the medications. She, in turn, sold the pain pills – sometimes as many as 1,000 a month – to customers in Springville, Boston, North Collins, Hamburg and as far as Little Valley in Cattaraugus County, Rozansky reported.
Along with the prescription pills, other contraband such as heroin, hypodermic needles and crack pipes were discovered and confiscated at the farmhouse.
Zittel is a widowed mother of four, though no children were present in the home during the raid. Calls by the Springville Journal
to Zittel’s father-in-law were not returned.
Detectives say they are aware that Zittel is not alone in this operation. Investigations are ongoing for accomplices and members of her “wide customer base,” said Rozansky. Charles Tucker, who is associated with Zittel, was apprehended at his house in Hamburg, as well. Shortly before the drug bust in Concord, Douglas Pasinski, a customer of Zittel, was arrested after allegedly purchasing Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug. He faces charges of misdemeanor drug possession and endangering the welfare of his daughter, who was in the backseat of Pasinski’s car without a seat belt or child safety seat while Pasinski attempted to flee.
ECSD is not taking the narcotics situation in Western New York lightly. “It’s an extremely large concern,” said Rozansky. “It’s the forefront of our focus, as far as our product investigation.”