- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2001

69 arrested in drug ring crackdown

PHILADELPHIA Two drug rings that smuggled millions of dollars of heroin from South America to Philadelphia and New York were dismantled yesterday with the arrests of 69 persons, U.S. and Colombian officials said.

The investigation, which lasted more than a year, marked the first time U.S. officials identified a drug organization working in Colombia that authorities there were not aware of, the U.S. attorney's office said.

"Our ability to do this to take out an entire drug organization from the Colombia source to the New York distributors to the streets of Philadelphia is an astounding achievement that will not be unnoticed by the drug cartels," U.S. Attorney Michael Stiles said.

Thirty-one persons were arrested in Colombia, 27 in Pennsylvania and 11 in New York in investigations dubbed Operation White Horse and Operation Guaranteed Delivery.

Sharpton friends pay pending St. Louis fine

ST. LOUIS Backers of the Rev. Al Sharpton yesterday paid his fine over a 1999 civil rights protest, but a St. Louis judge refused to lift an arrest warrant for the New York civil rights leader.

Mr. Sharpton's supporters paid $688 to cover the fines and court costs resulting from Mr. Sharpton's Dec. 11 conviction on violations resulting from the protest.

During the protest, Interstate 70 through St. Louis was briefly closed by demonstrators seeking more minority workers on area road projects.

Associate Circuit Judge Jack Garvey, who had imposed the fines, refused to quash the arrest warrant issued Tuesday after Mr. Sharpton missed a deadline for paying the fine.

Judge Garvey says Mr. Sharpton must appear in person before him to get the warrant lifted. Mr. Sharpton thus is subject to arrest when he is in St. Louis.

Cop killer to move to halfway house

TRENTON, N.J. The New Jersey Supreme Court yesterday ordered a convicted cop killer transferred to a halfway house as a first step toward freedom after 37 years behind bars.

Thomas Trantino, 62, is the longest-serving inmate in New Jersey. He had been turned down for parole at least nine times.

The court ordered Trantino sent from state prison to a halfway house. If he successfully completes 12 months there, he will be released.

In yesterday's ruling, Associate Justice Gary Stein wrote for a 4-1 majority that the parole board lacked firm proof that Trantino posed a threat to society.

Officers Peter Voto and Gary Tedesco, while responding to a disturbance at a bar, were forced by Trantino to strip to their underwear, and then were beaten and shot in the head.

Trantino has said he does not remember killing the two officers because he was high on drugs and alcohol. He was originally sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted in 1972.

Air Force investigates 15 for drugs

COLORADO SPRINGS The Air Force is investigating 15 airmen suspected of drug abuse, including some who have access to Norad, the super-secret mountain installation that tracks the skies for missiles approaching North America.

No arrests have been made and no charges pressed against the 15 who work at Peterson Air Force Base and the nearby Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, which houses the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Gas geysers erupt, causing injuries

HUTCHINSON, Kan. Natural gas shooting as high as 30 feet out of the ground caused an explosion at a mobile home park yesterday, injuring three persons.

The explosion followed a blast Wednesday that destroyed two businesses in downtown Hutchinson, about 60 miles northwest of Wichita.

A specialist from the Kansas Geological Survey said the gas may be coming from an old well.

Two of those injured in yesterday's blast at Big Chief Mobile Home Park were in serious condition.

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