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Feds Nab Head of Major New York-Puerto Rico Heroin Ring

March 30, 1993

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man who police claim started as a street drug peddler and rose to head a vast heroin and money-laundering ring was among 19 people arrested in a series of raids in New York and Puerto Rico.

Robert Torres, 37, ran ″Los Brujos″ (the Warlocks), a racket that sold millions of dollars worth of heroin from some 20 distribution centers in New York, authorities said.

″In just two of these in the Bronx, he distributed $45,000 worth of heroin on a daily basis,″ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Rebay. ″That’s $16 million a year.″

Authorities also seized $60 million in assets, weapons, almost 20 pounds of cocaine and small amounts of heroin in the raids early Monday by hundreds of federal and local law enforcement agents.

The ring’s alleged money launderer, former Chase Manhattan Bank vice president Joseph Devery, 49, is scheduled to surrender Wednesday under a deal worked out with the U.S. attorney’s office.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Torres entered the heroin trafficking business as a street manager for his cousins in the 1970s. By the mid-1980s, he had become a major player in the heroin rackets in Manhattan and the Bronx, the commissioner said.

″Torres has derived enormous wealth from his heroin-trafficking activities and has actively laundered such proceeds by investing in real estate, construction companies, restaurants, resorts and securities in New York and Puerto Rico,″ Kelly said.

Thus far, investigators have linked the suspects to more than 60 businesses and properties in New York and Puerto Rico. Assets seized included luxury cars, farm equipment and trucks from a construction company oin Maunabo, Puerto Rico.

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