Pubdate: Tue, 18 May 1999
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 1999, New Haven Register
Author: William Kaempffer


NEW HAVEN - In one of the largest drug money forfeitures in
Connecticut history, three local police departments, the state police
and the FBI Monday split $1.1 million seized from a Greater New Haven
drug ring in 1995.

The money orders and other negotiables was seized July 6, 1995, at JFK
International Airport in New York City.

According to U.S. Attorney Stephen C. Robinson, the seizure was based
largely on an 18-month investigation by the New Haven Organized Crime
Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Robinson characterized the task force as a "group that gets the job
done" and the seized money as a testament to "not only great
cooperation, but a superb investigation."

The task force is comprised of local, state and federal

Of the five recipients, New Haven police received the largest share at
$474,735. Connecticut State Police received $146,941.

West Haven and the FBI each received $113,032, and Hamden police
received $56,561.

The task force investigation began in 1994 and focused on a cocaine
and heroin ring with strong ties to Queens, N.Y., and direct ties to
Cali, Authorities bugged phones and intercepted pager messages, made
undercover buys and conducted extensive surveillance in revealing the
operation, which was based in West Haven.

The information netted the FBI in New York a court-approved wiretap
that intercepted a call that indicated drug operatives were planning
to shuttle a large amount of money out of the country via JFK.

Two days later, U.S. Customs agents stopped a Colombian national as
she and her children prepared to board a flight to Bogota, Colombia.
In the luggage, secreted within several children's toys, was the $1.1

It was seized and, ultimately forfeited as the proceeds of narcotics
distribution. The investigation led to 17 arrests.

The task force includes agents from the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration, FBI, New Haven, West Haven and Hamden police
departments and Connecticut State Police.

Federal forfeiture laws state the monies may be used at the discretion
of the recipient and the amounts reflect the level of participation of
each agency in the investigation.

Police spokeswoman Judith Mongillo said no determination had been made
for use of the funds.
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