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Accused Heroin Kingpin Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges

August 19, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ A 72-year-old Chinatown businessman pleaded guilty to brokering an operation that put hundreds of pounds of heroin on the streets.

Peter Woo, an influential leader in New York’s Chinese community, Friday told U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie that he conspired with his codefendants to possess heroin and distribute it in Queens and other parts of the city.

Woo brought wholesale heroin buyers and sellers together, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles E. Rose.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he is sentenced by Dearie. No sentencing date had been set.

Woo, the owner of a Chinatown liquor store, was arrested in February when federal and city lawmen broke up the drug ring, seized 820 pounds of high- grade Asian heroin worth $1 billion at three homes and confiscated $3 million in cash.

Federal authorities have charged 29 others with participating in the organization. Woo, alleged leader of the ring, was the first to enter a plea, Rose said. He remained in custody on $2 million bail.

At the time of the arrests, the assistant FBI director in charge of the New York office, James M. Fox, said the heroin bust was the largest ever in the United States.

Woo, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born in Canton, China, and came to the United States about three decades ago. He owned a liquor store on Mott Street and ran the Chinatown Democratic Club in the same building.

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