‘Operation Hot Lunch’ yields 26 arrests

Takedown dismantled $3 million per year cocaine ring

Posted 6/5/24

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced on May 21, 2024, the coordinated efforts of numerous law enforcement agencies conducted an enforcement action after a long-term …

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‘Operation Hot Lunch’ yields 26 arrests

Takedown dismantled $3 million per year cocaine ring


Operation Hot Lunch, a coordinated firearm and narcotics enforcement action, resulted in 33 defendants charged with counts related to the possession and sale of narcotics and guns and has dismantled a $3 million-per-year cocaine ring. It is the largest gun trafficking case in Orange County history.

A press conference was held at the Orange Sheriff’s Office in Goshen with various members of law enforcement in attendance (39 agencies were said to have been involved). Handguns, rifles, shotguns, bags of money, drugs and other evidence collected were on display.

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler detailed on May 21 the coordinated efforts of the agencies involved in the operation, code-named “Hot Lunch,” which was the result of a long-term investigation into firearm and narcotics trafficking in Orange County.

The operation concluded with the arrests of 26 people charged with narcotics, firearm and conspiracy offenses. Two individuals are pending extradition from other states and one is in ICE custody. Law enforcement is asking for the public’s assistance in locating four individuals who are wanted on charges stemming from the investigation.

Several display boards for the press conference provided a breakdown of the operation and the members involved. Several images showed handguns in Styrofoam carryout containers and other packages placed into aluminum-foil takeout plates.

A six-month long intensive investigation into illegal firearms and narcotics trafficking in Orange County was conducted by the Orange County Drug Task Force (OCDTF), the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, together with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the City of Middletown Police Department, New York State Police, the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, and the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center.

As alleged in documents filed and statements made in court, the investigation revealed that Kirkland Salmon was at the center of four different conspiracies to traffic narcotics and firearms through Orange County. Salmon was supplied with quantities of cocaine by two different suppliers, Owen Beckford a/k/a Marvin Ottley and Joshua Arnold, to distribute from his food truck parked in the City of Newburgh.

Salmon’s food truck, Real Spice, was regularly parked across the street from the City of Newburgh Courthouse. Kirkland was one of the arrested individuals from Newburgh. Others arrested were from around the state -- Poughkeepsie, Monroe, Montgomery, New Hampton and Fleischmanns – as well as Florida and North Carolina.

Salmon was also allegedly supplied by Andre Smith with firearms to resell in Orange County. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement learned of Beckford’s and Arnold’s narcotics distribution organizations, both of which distributed cocaine in the City of Newburgh and elsewhere in Orange County.

During the investigation, law enforcement recovered 24 firearms and one kilogram of cocaine. On the day of the enforcement action on May 21, police additionally recovered over 11 kilograms of cocaine, approximately 90 grams of fentanyl, seven guns, high-capacity magazines, numerous rounds of ammunition, approximately $45,000 in currency, scales and packaging materials used in narcotics trafficking and ten vehicles used in the crimes charged. Law enforcement also seized one food truck.

“What makes this case different than every other case we’ve done in the years that I’ve been DA and as long as I can remember in this county is we have never seen this level of sophistication and we’ve never seen this level of structuring. The money of this organization moved around with ease,” said Hoovler. “It was invested into real estate property and crypto, in properties in Orange County and other things. The individuals used their girlfriends and family members to mask their transactions, which is something that we don’t see a lot of here in Orange County.”

Hoovler thanked the agencies involved in the investigation: City of Newburgh Police Department; Town of Newburgh Police Department; Town of Woodbury Police Department; Town of Montgomery Police Department; Town of Wallkill Police Department; and the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson Police Department.

“The scope and scale of these interweaving conspiracies underscores the importance of dedicated, long-term investigations to disrupt and dismantle operations that traffic in narcotics and guns,” said Hoovler. “Together with our law-enforcement partners, we have reaffirmed our commitment to keeping our streets safe from the scourge of drugs and the violence that is too often found in the wake. As I have said time and again, if you choose to bring illegal firearms into Orange County, we will find you and we will hold you accountable. We will not rest while high-level narcotics dealers attempt to bring dangerous drugs and guns into our county. We will utilize every resource available to seek out those drivers of crime and to hold them responsible for their deadly business.”

“The success of this investigation was largely due to the dedication and cooperation of all 39 law enforcement agencies involved. These dangerous drugs and illegal firearms cause havoc and devastation in our communities. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to push its resources towards combating these serious crimes and holding these criminals accountable,” said Orange County Sheriff Paul Arteta.