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Record 57 Gallons of PCP Seized in Houston

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    HOUSTON — Federal officials say that nine Houston residents have been arrested after an 18-month operation climaxing in the seizure of 57 gallons of PCP.

    A statement from U.S. Attorney Jose Angel Moreno in Houston says that makes it the largest such seizure of the controlled substance in Drug Enforcement Administration history

    In announcing Wednesday's arrests, Moreno says the seizure was of "actual PCP," the controlled substance itself, rather than its ingredients.

    A federal grand jury returned the sealed indictment last month. It was unsealed after Wednesday's arrests.

    The defendants face various drug charges in the indictment, including conspiring to possess PCP with intent to distribute. Two others previously arrested in the operation have pleaded guilty.



    The Associated Press
    Dec. 1, 2010, 3:48PM

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/7319585.html

Comments

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: 9 Houston residents arrested in PCP bust

    The largest seizure of the narcotic PCP in the history of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration resulted in the arrest of nine Houston residents Wednesday for allegedly conspiring to distribute enough of the powerful psychedelic to get at least 28 million people high, according to expert estimates.

    Agents seized a whopping 57 gallons of the drug, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

    PCP, or Phencyclidine, is known on the streets as angel dust, super grass, killer weed and rocket fuel.

    The seizure of so much PCP could signal the emergence of a huge new market for the drug, which was popular in some areas in the 1970s but keeps a far lower profile than cocaine, marijuana or other illegal substances, authorities said.

    "That represents a lot of money and a lot of users," said Stan Furce, director of Houston's High Intensity Drug Traffic Area, a coalition of federal and local law-enforcement agencies that stretches to the coastal counties.

    "They almost don't feel any pain," Furce said of PCP users. "They become super agitated, rebellious and super strong. I would not want to go one-on-one against a PCP user ... wild-eyed, scary-looking dudes."
    Operation Scratch Off

    PCP can be taken in pill or powder form, or a cigarette can be dipped in the clear liquid and then smoked. It takes minutes to touch off unpredictable episodes lasting hours.

    Wendell Campbell, spokesman for the DEA's Houston Division, said 1 gallon of PCP is conservatively enough to produce well over 500,000 dosage units.

    It costs about $2,000 a gallon to make, and sells for about $22,000 a gallon, said Campbell, discussing the nationwide market.

    As for the Houston bust, the nine defendants were accused under a sealed indictment in November, but charges weren't made public until Wednesday, when they were arrested.

    Seven were arrested here and are expected to be brought before a federal magistrate today. Two others were arrested out of state, one in Mississippi and the other in Louisiana.

    Those charged Wednesday with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute PCP include: Andre Smith, 52; Samuel Joseph Jackson, 35; Tyrone Dewayne Roberson, 38; Michael Ardion, 50; Archie Deneshe Harris, 34; Cameo Deshawn McAfee, 24; Joseph Lamar Broussard, 37; Karola Johnson Gant, 43; and Chatela Jackson, 32.

    They face a minimum of 10 years in prison to as much as life.

    The arrests are the result of an 18-month investigation dubbed Operation Scratch Off, according to the DOJ statement.

    The 57 gallons were seized during the investigation, but authorities won't say specifically where or how they found the PCP.

    Although the DOJ statement announced the indictment was "unsealed," documents were not available to the public at the federal courthouse as of late Wednesday and further details were not available.

    Two other people pleaded guilty earlier in the investigation, according to prosecutors, but they were not named Wednesday.
    Several agencies involved

    Tom Hinojosa, acting chief if the DEA's Houston Division, said in a prepared statement that the investigation to capture the PCP and its alleged distributors is the result of a collaborative effort by several area agencies.

    "The success of the investigation leading to today's arrests is a result of the close and sustained cooperation between DEA and our law-enforcement partners to target and remove drug-trafficking organizations operating in and around the Houston metro area."

    On an informational Web site, the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office notes PCP can produce violent and bizarre behavior, and that violent acts committed while taking the drug cause more deaths than the drug's direct effect on the body.

    It was originally developed in the 1950s as an anesthetic for humans, but because of its side effects was later restricted to use as a veterinary tranquilizer.

    By DANE SCHILLER
    Dec. 1, 2010, 9:06PM

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7319825.html
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