Pubdate: Thu, 22 May 2003 Source: Asian Pacific Post, The (CN BC) Copyright: 2003 The Asian Pacific Post. Contact: http://www.asianpacificpost.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2909 Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/heroin.htm (Heroin) 'UNTOUCHABLES' FLOODED CANADA WITH HEROIN They called themselves the Untouchables because of their ability to avoid capture. For the past three years the powerful crime cartel trucked heroin from the poppy fields of the Golden Triangle into Chinas notorious Fujian Province and shipped the drug west to be sold on the streets of Vancouver, Toronto, New York and other North American cities. Using underground banks to launder the millions of dollars raised by the illicit trade, the gang had an international network of retail cells at the street level to distribute the heroin, which was being shipped in containers. Last week, in an unprecedented joint operation between the Americans and the Chinese, the drug syndicate was busted and the hierarchy of the drug cartel was arrested. Anthony Placido, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administrations New York office, said that the drug organization was one of the worlds largest, operating from the farms of Burma to the arms of addicts in United States and Canada. He said the high-grade smack moved from the poppy fields of Myanmar, formerly Burma, to the docks of Fujian Province on Chinas southeast coast and ultimately to the streets of Chinatown in Manhattan for distribution throughout the United States and Canada. As a result of the joint-operation, 25 people have been indicted on federal drug-trafficking charges in New York. Those charged in the U.S. federal court after a nearly two-year investigation are accused of smuggling more than US$100 million worth of heroin from Southeast Asia since 2000, officials said. Ten of those indicted were arrested in Manhattan and are to be arraigned this week. If convicted of the drug charges, each faces a maximum term of life imprisonment. Eight others were arrested in China, including the four alleged ringleaders, whom officials collectively called the Untouchables because they had avoided arrest. The eight will be tried in China. Two additional arrests occurred in Hong Kong and Miami. Another five people under indictment are being sought, authorities said. Chinese media quoting the Fujian Public Security Bureau reported that an unknown sum of money and vehicles were also seized by police in the joint-swoop in east Chinas Fujian province. This is an unprecedented event, U.S. Attorney James Comey told a news conference. The alleged smuggling ring was taken down a week earlier than U.S. officials had planned, Comey said, because of developments in the case in China. According to a five-count indictment filed with the U.S. courts the crime cartel was known as the 125 Organization because one of its leaders, Kin Cheung Wong, was also known as 125. Wong and three other ringleaders were also known in China as the Untouchables because of their ability to elude the authorities. Wong is a former drug dealer in Manhattans Chinatown who had been jailed on drug charges and deported, said U.S. officials. Law enforcement sources said the investigation began nearly two years ago by the NYPD, who used undercover cops and confidential informants to infiltrate the gang. What they found was a sophisticated drug operation. We still dont know how they kept coming in and out of the country. They were that good, said one law enforcement source. These guys were moving huge quantities of heroin in and out of the U.S., and none of them were even legal (migrants). The gangs dealers in New Yorks Chinatown and Queens were extraordinarily paranoid, often changing cars, clothes and ducking under vehicles to elude investigators, the source said. Chinese law enforcement wiretapped the Untouchables, but what was gathered couldnt be used to make a case under Chinese law. They used our evidence and our surveillance to make the cases overseas, said a high-ranking police official, according to the New York Post. The American Justice Department considered the case so important they fronted the Chinese government US$180,000 - money that was not recovered and probably never will be, the paper said. The Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada estimates that 95 per cent of heroin smuggled into Canada originates in Southeast Asia. According to its latest report, Southeast Asian heroin typically enters Canada through Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal international airports and major marine ports in British Columbia. A portion of this heroin is then smuggled to the U.S criminal groups composed of individuals of Chinese descent who operate on both sides of the border and control distribution. The intelligence service says all major heroin seizures in Canada lately involved Asian-based crime syndicates and most of the traffickers are linked to Fukinese-based criminal groups. The Asian crime groups continue to associate with other organized crime groups, nationally and internationally, and to expand their association with youth and street gangs. Members of street and youth gangs are typically used as a labour pool for their criminal activities, security and as a source of recruits. There are a number of active Asian-based street gangs in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, which are used by drug cartels as retail cells to distribute drugs.