Major Heroin Ring Broken, DEA Says
NEW YORK (AP) _ Investigators have smashed a drug ring that imported millions of dollars in heroin from Europe, arresting many of the same figures named in the celebrated ″French Connection″ case, authorities say.
The arrests, announced Wednesday in New York and California, culminated a yearlong investigation into an international ring that involved U.S., French, Italian and Israeli citizens, said Larry Lusardi, agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency office in San Jose, Calif.
The drug ring dealt with all levels of the heroin trade, from raw opium to processing labs to smuggling, he said.
Lusardi was unable to say how much heroin was imported, but that the trade was ″obviously in the millions of dollars.″
The investigation resulted in at least one seizure of heroin when agents confiscated a 14-pound package of the illegal narcotic in Florida.
Authorities in Italy, France and Canada as well as the United States were involved in the investigation.
It began in December 1984 when French and Italian heroin traffickers operating between their countries and New York were identified, said Joan Marin of the DEA in New York.
In November, raids in Switzerland and France netted $45 million in heroin destined for the United States. Two Frenchmen arrested at a covert drug laboratory in the raids were French Connection heroin ″chemists,″ French authorities said.
The French Connection produced heroin in the south of France for the U.S. market until police actions in the late 1960s scattered the ring. Heroin seized in New York, worth $78 million, later disappeared from police custody.
Based on a federal complaint filed in New York, the DEA has begun making arrests in the case, including an elderly San Jose couple, Rose and George Adragna, said Lusardi.
The Adragnas were released on $100,000 bond after their arrest Tuesday and were ordered to appear in court Jan. 30, he said.
Based on wiretap evidence, they were charged with conspiracy to smuggle heroin into the country, Lusardi said.
″Many of these people in this organization are well known to French, American and Italian authorities as major heroin violators,″ said Lusardi.
″Basically, the Adragnas’ involvement was putting the European people they knew either as friends or relatives (in touch with) people in New York they were friends with,″ he said. ″I think probably all of the people arrested were very high in the organization.″
An Italian national, Guiseppe Gaglia, 51, of New York, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to import heroin, Ms. Marin said.
Seven other people were arrested in Marseille, France, and five in Sicily, she said.