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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
September 26, 2001



photograph of Mexican Black Tar Heroin
Mexican Black Tar Heroin


photograph of a Mexican Heroin Laboratory

photograph of a Mexican Heroin Laboratory
Mexican Heroin Laboratory

Asa Hutchinson, Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration; Ray Gruender, United States Attorney, Eastern District of Missouri; Joseph Corcoran, Special Agent in Charge, DEA St. Louis Division; Joseph Mokwa, Chief, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; and Ron Battelle, Chief, St. Louis County Police Department announced today the dismantling of a violent multi-national heroin trafficking organization operating in St. Louis, Missouri and Los Angeles, California, Fort Worth, Texas and Mexico.

At approximately 6:00 AM, Central Time, as a result of a long term, multi-agency investigation authorized by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), more than 400 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers gathered to execute approximately 100 search and arrest warrants in Missouri, California, Texas, and the Republic of Mexico.

According to Complaints filed this morning, the following defendants are alleged to be part of a large heroin distribution organization with sources in Los Angeles, California. It is conservatively estimated that the known members of this organization are directly responsible for supplying in excess of thirty (30) pounds of heroin to distributors and abusers in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.

WILL ADAMS, 44, 1200 block of Kilgore, St. Louis
RANDALL JACKSON, 29, of the 2000 block of East Fair, St. Louis
GARLAND RUSH-BEY, 51, of the 7000 block of Plymouth, St. Louis

According to the complaints, the following fourteen defendants, led by Maurice Lee, Charles Anthony Rush-Bey and Antonia Butler, are responsible for well over 1,000 federal and state narcotics law violations, as well as planning assassinations and concealing weapons. Some defendants could face penalties including imprisonment for life. At least seven will be subject to pretrial detention requests based upon their past and present violence, criminal histories, danger to the community and/or flight risk, according to motions filed by the United States Attorneys Office.

MAURICE LEE, 19, of the 4400 block of Greenwich, St. Louis
WILLIAM CORY SELTZER, 20, of the 2000 block of Vinceness, St. Louis
TIMOTHY RUSH, 35, of the 3900 block of Shaw, St. Louis
KEITH GILBERT, 33, of the 5600 block of Helen, St. Louis
CHARLES ANTHONY RUSH-BEY, 38,. of the 1500 block of St. Ives, St. Louis
ANTOINE ATKINS, 38, of the 4000 block of Detonty, St. Louis
ANDRE RUSH, 36, of the 3900 block of Shaw, St. Louis
ANTONIA LANARR BUTLER, 28, of the 4200 block of Blaine, St Louis
PAUL RAY JOHNSON, 34, of the 10,000 block of Viscount, St. Louis
FREDERICK MCNEAL, 26, of the 5500 block of Holborn, St. Louis
CARL ANTHONY PARKER, 44, of the 3500 block of North Garrison, St. Louis

Asa Hutchinson, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, stated today in St. Louis that, “This case illustrates that heroin trafficking and violence go hand-in-hand. Nationally, there is a concern that heroin traffickers are making new inroads into our nation’s urban areas. This case is a strong statement that heroin traffickers must not target our neighborhoods.” Chief Joseph Mokwa added that, “As a result of violence often associated with drug dealing in the City of St. Louis, we have implemented a joint DEA-St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department drug-related violent crime initiative. This initiative is being formed by the two agencies to address and combat the city’s increase in drug-related homicides. The objectives of this initiative are to identify violent organizations involved in drug trafficking activity and develop investigative leads to clear unsolved homicides and related crime.” Administrator Hutchinson pledged DEA’s continued commitment to maintain a close working relationship with all federal, state, and local law enforcemcnt agencies nationwide to reduce drug trafficking and violent crime in all communities throughout thc United States.

Ray Gruender, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, applauded today’s cooperative enforcement activity and stated that, “This is the very kind of investigation the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force was designed to conduct, bringing together the combined efforts of many different agencies and jurisdictions, to attack and dismantle violent narcotics distribution organizations. OCDETF is a congressionally funded drug task force which was created to combine and focus the resources of nine federal agencies and state and local agencics to identify, investigate, and prosecute members of high level drug trafficking enterprises. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in St. Louis serves as the OCDETF core city of the West-Central Region, which includes Missouri, southern Illinois, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Arkansas. The investigation is continuing.”

In addition to the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspections Service, United States Marshal’s Service, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, the St. Louis City and St. Louis County Police Departments, St. Charles County Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol performed key roles in penetrating and dismantling the St. Louis factions of this organization.

The charges set forth in a Complaint are merely accusations and each defendant is innocent until and unless proven guilty.

photograph of a Mexican Opium PoppyFrom the opium poppy, both brown heroin and black tar heroin are produced in Mexico. Black tar heroin accounts for as much as 80 percent of the total amount of heroin produced in Mexico. Brown heroin is the refined powder that was the staple of Mexican heroin trafficking until the 1980s. Since then, black tar, also known as vidrio, has become the predominant form of Mexican heroin. Vidrio is described as a black hard or gummy substance produced by a processing method that involves omitting certain chemicals or diluents, including a final chemical wash. Additional chemical refining yields the brown powder variety of Mexican heroin. Mexican brown heroin is defined as a powdery form of heroin that is brown or off-white in color. These processing methods and resultant heroin products are unique to Mexico. Black tar heroin has a higher purity than the brown variety, may be smoked as well as injected, and is less expensive (at the street level) in the United States than other types of heroin. At present, there have been reports of a Mexican “white heroin” product being produced in Mexico that utilizes Mexican opium gum and a Colombian white heroin processing method.


Heroin in Mexico

Mexico cultivates 2 percent of the world’s opium poppy as one of four regional opium source areas. While this represents only a fraction of worldwide opium production, Mexico’s opium production is significant because the vast majority of Mexican opium is converted into heroin and smuggled into the United States by Mexican heroin trafficking organizations. The Mexican heroin trade is characterized by a great deal of diversity among trafficking organizations and the way these organizations operate. The routes and methods employed by heroin traffickers using Mexico as a staging point to smuggle heroin into the United States, varies according to the capabilities and origins of the traffickers and the type of heroin being smuggled.

Traditional distribution patterns for Mexican heroin have been altered in response to Mexican and United States law enforcement pressure and in an attempt to expand into new markets. Mexican black tar heroin, and to a lesser extent Mexican brown heroin, is increasingly marketable outside of the southwestern and western regions of the U.S. where Mexican trafficking organizations have traditionally dominated the heroin market. Two recent seizures of clandestine heroin processing laboratories by Mexican authorities in the State of Durango, Mexico, illustrate the ingenuity and flexibility of Mexican heroin traffickers who appear to be seeking new alliances and developing new products to further their illicit enterprises. These laboratory seizures may signal an attempt by well-established Mexican heroin trafficking organizations to expand beyond their traditional distribution areas and into the lucrative, high-purity white heroin market in the northeastern United States.

U.S. Government estimates indicate that Mexico has been able to keep the amount of heroin produced relatively stable over the past 6 years, through its eradication efforts. Despite Mexico’s extensive eradication campaign, both cultivation and consumption levels in Mexico ensure that Mexican heroin will continue to be readily available in the United States. Continued vigilance by U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials is warranted. Mexican heroin traffickers are well positioned, relative to competition from other source areas, and have the potential to expand operations during the next decade, allowing them to increase their share of the U.S. market.


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