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Drugs, Guns and Money Seized As Police Smash Heroin Ring

January 10, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ The 20-year-old leader of a $25 million-a-year heroin ring was arrested Wednesday with 40 ring members during pre-dawn raids in New York and Miami, authorities said.

Investigators seized 56 handguns, including 12 fully automatic weapons capable of firing 700 rounds a minute, during the raid and a raid that resulted in arrests last month.

″This is probably one of the largest seizures of firearms in the city,″ said Charles Thomson, special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The ring’s leader, Steve Ramos, and his girlfriend, Mara LaSanta, 18, were arrested during a raid on their apartment in Yonkers, said police spokesman Lt. Raymond O’Donnell.

Ramos and a lieutenant, Dennis Melendez of Miami, face federal charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin as well as charges for use and possession of a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime.

The maximum penalty is life plus 30 years in prison.

Ramos controlled a highly organized distribution ring, which supplied high quality heroin in the Bronx, East Harlem and New Jersey, authorities said.

At one of the ring’s locations, ″they even had a day manager and a night manager,″ Police Commissioner Lee P. Brown told reporters.

Ramos recruited a member who held a federal firearms permit to supply the group with guns and contracted with a clandestine firearms factory in California that manufactured machine guns without serial numbers for the ring, Thomson said.

Investigators also seized a kilo of heroin, with an estimated street value of $1 million, as well as $235,000 in cash during the raids, which involved some 300 city police officers.

During December, investigators arrested 25 members of the ring.