How Feds, Cops Took Down Drug Ring That “Wreaked Havoc”


A St. Louis area drug case offers a rare glimpse into the workings of a powerful, dangerous drug lord, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The organization he led was dangerous group, showing sophistication beyond what people might expect from gangs, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said. The gang's undoing is a textbook example of the tactics by which the Drug Enforcement Administration teams with local police – in this case to plug a pipeline of heroin from Mexico to the St. Louis area. The DEA called it “Operation Trifecta.”

The gang leader, now 35, capitalized on an uptick in the popularity of heroin here, said DEA agent Jack Riley. Increased purity meant it could be snorted or smoked by customers who might have been too squeamish to inject it. The gang could change the brown color of the Mexican heroin to market it as the more coveted “China White” to match customer demand. The federal judge who sentenced the drug lord to 35 years in prison said he had “wreaked havoc on St. Louis.” Agents seized $1.2 million in cash plus 66 pounds of cocaine and 36 pounds of 99-percent-pure methamphetamine that was already in the St. Louis area or headed there. Riley said the ring had handled perhaps $40 million worth of drugs. A Post-Dispatch review of hundreds of pages of court documents, testimony and DEA wiretaps, along with interviews with federal agents and prosecutors, shows a man who seemed to be a combination of “vicious pit bull, resourceful Boy Scout and star businessman.”


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