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August 15, 2006
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Drug agents break up coast-to-coast heroin ring that offered home delivery

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON- Federal agents arrested more than 130 alleged drug traffickers from coast-to-coast Tuesday who U.S. officials said smuggled heroin from Mexico and offered phone-up home delivery like a takeout pizza shop.

Beginning before dawn, Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted arrest raids and searches, seeking up to 150 people, about half of them illegal aliens, according to senior drug enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the official announcement.

By early afternoon, the investigation had produced 131 arrests in 15 cities, from Charleston, South Carolina to Los Angeles, based on 10 federal indictments and state charges, the officials said.

Known as Operation Black Gold Rush, the investigation was being described at a news conference here by Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher and deputy DEA administrator Michele Leonhart.

Officials said the ring grew its own poppies and refined them in Mexico and smuggled an unusually pure variety of black tar heroin across the U.S.-Mexican border, mostly in Arizona, with couriers on foot or in vehicles.

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