Heroin probe leads to 130 ar­rests; hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars seized

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

More than 130 peo­ple have been ar­rested na­tion­wide and hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars seized as part of “Op­er­a­tion Black Gold Rush,” an in­ter­na­tional un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tion that tar­geted the traf­fick­ing of black tar heroin in the United States.

As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Alice S. Fisher, who­heads the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s crim­i­nal di­vi­sion, and Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (DEA) chief Karen P. Tandy said the mul­ti­state in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­sulted in ar­rests in 15 U.S. cities and 10 in­dict­ments in eight fed­eral ju­di­cial dis­tricts — with more than 17 kilo­grams of black tar heroin seized in sep­a­rate raids.

“As this op­er­a­tion demon­strates, theDepart­ment of Jus­tice is as­com­mit­ted as ever to erad­i­cat­ing the flood of il­le­gal and dan­ger­ous nar­cotics like black tar heroin,” Mrs. Fisher said. “Law en­force­ment across the coun­try will con­tinue to work dili­gently to shut down th­ese op­er­a­tions and keep our neigh­bor­hoods free of the poi­son be­ing spread by th­ese crim­i­nals.”

Mrs. Tandy said Op­er­a­tion Black Gold Rush ex­posed a net­work of more than 100 il­le­gal aliens who con­trolled a pipe­line of heroin op­er­at­ing from Na­yarit, Mex­ico, to Nashville, Tenn., and at least 14 cities in be­tween. She said the ar­rests by DEA agents across the coun­try had “rup­tured that pipe­line, stop­ping the flow of heroin to our streets.”

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan in Novem­ber with a sin­gle seizure of heroin, and DEA agents reached out to state and lo­cal law-en­force­ment agen­cies for as­sis­tance.

He said sus­pected mem­bers of the drug-traf­fick­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion charged in the in­dict­ments are ac­cused of im­port­ing and dis­tribut­ing 10 to 15 kilo­grams of black tar heroin monthly from Mex­ico into the United States. The nar­cotic can be sold on the street for more than $3 mil­lion.

Mr. Payne said the or­ga­ni­za­tion is ac­cused of us­ing il­le­gal aliens as couri­ers, part of a “call-and-de­liver” sys­tem of drug dis­tri­bu­tion in which a buyer could have heroin de­liv­ered to the front door. The il­licit pro­ceeds are thought to have been laun­dered by the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s fi­nan­cial man­agers us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of wire re­mit­ters and bulk cur­rency trans­port, he said.

Agents have seized more than $380,000 in cash, Mr. Payne said.

In­dict­ments in the case were re­turned in In­di­ana, where 13 per­sons were charged with con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute 1 kilo­gram or more of heroin. Ad­di­tion­ally, 15 oth­ers were charged in In­di­ana, and 28 were ar­rested and in­dicted in Ohio, 47 in Ten­nessee, seven in Colorado and 11 in North Carolina.

Op­er­a­tion Black Gold Rush tar­geted sus­pected drug traf­fick­ers in Nashville, Mem­phis and Knoxville, Tenn.; In­di­anapo­lis; Colum­bus and Cincin­nati, Ohio; Den­ver; Los An­ge­les and River­side, Calif.; Char­lotte, N.C.; Columbia, Greenville, Charleston and Florence, S.C.; and Phoenix.

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