3 Arrested In Drug Busts
NEW YORK (AP) _ Three men were arrested and $13.6 million in cash and drugs was seized in a series of busts in and around New York City, federal drug authorities said Thursday.
Robert M. Stutman, special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the $5.8 million cash was ″the largest seizure of cash ever made from an individual in the United States″ in a drug bust. The arrests resulted from a joint investigation by the DEA and Nassau County police.
Stutman said officials observed a drug deal on Wednesday and arrested Edward Gerald Margiotta, 24, of Bronxville, at his Westchester County home where they found two pounds of cocaine, one pound of heroin and a .25-caliber semi-automatic weapon.
Later Wednesday night, officers observed another transaction and arrested Philip Alexander Vasta, 46, of Mineola, and John Charles Sforza, 59, of the Whitestone section of Queens, police said.
In Vasta’s car, Stutman said, officials found $12,000 cash, a bulletproof vest and a stun gun. Police said Sforza was carrying $256,000 in cash.
Authorities said they then went to Vasta’s home in Mineola, where they found $5,568,000 cash, crammed in duffel bags, backpacks, canvas bags and luggage in the basement, attic and dining room, Stutman said.
They also found 13 pounds of heroin, 14 pounds of cocaine, seven weapons and narcotics paraphernalia, including an elaborate heroin-cutting mill, according to Stutman.
He said the street value of the heroin, the largest seizure in New York since 1982, was $7 million. The cocaine was valued at $800,000.
The three were charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute illegal narcotics. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in jail and a maximum $250,000 fine.
Stutman said the three were part of a larger, international drug ring which he said was involved with ″everything from smuggling heroin to selling it on the street,″ primarily in the metropolitan area.