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NY: Feds crack Colombian drug ring, seize heroin worth $15 million

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK- U.S. and Colombian authorities have arrested 56 people in a crackdown on an international drug ring that allegedly smuggled tens of millions of dollars worth of heroin into New York.

Federal investigators had worked with Colombian law enforcement officials since the summer of 2004 to break up the organization, which concealed heroin inside such commercial items as furniture and the soles of sandals, court documents showed.

The organization also moved drugs into the United States through people who swallowed pellets of heroin, authorities said. Federal agents seized about 50 kilograms of heroin with a street value of $12.5 million from the carriers, the documents alleged.

The investigation resulted in the seizure of about 60 kilograms of heroin with a street value of about $15 million, according to a federal court complaint.

The complaint, signed by Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Richard J. Walsh, said investigators discovered a heroin stash house in Queens where 7 kilograms of heroin with a street value of $1.75 million was seized, as well as a heroin mill in the Bronx.

During a search of the heroin mill and vehicles used by the drug gang, authorities seized more than $2 million in cash, jewelry and more than 20 different stamps used to brand heroin for sale, Walsh said.

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