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Police seize kilo of opium

March 22, 2002

Gretchen Hoffman

NORTHEAST GLENDALE -- Glendale Police seized a kilo of opium hidden

inside a religious icon mailed to a woman suspected of passing it along

to drug dealers.

A package with an unusually dense center alerted U.S. Customs

officials in New York, who found the opium in a hollowed-out wooden

picture of two saints, Glendale Police Det. Craig Tweedy said.

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The package, which was sent from Bulgaria, was forwarded on to U.S.

Customs officials in Los Angeles, who contacted Glendale Police, Tweedy

said.

Using a U.S. postal inspector disguised as a mailman, police

orchestrated the package's delivery on March 13 to an apartment in the

300 block of Monterey Road, he added.

"Upon seeing the package, she became extremely excited, happy," Tweedy

said. "She'd been expecting it."

She told them a tangled story about meeting a Dutch woman at a bus

stop who offered to send her a religious picture, police said. Kamali

Masihi, 64, was arrested on suspicion of possessing opium for sale.

The opium has a value of $14,000 to $18,000 but could be sold on the

street for $20,000 to $24,000, Tweedy said.

It's not uncommon for dealers to use an elderly person to receive the

drugs because it's less conspicuous, Tweedy said. Opium, which is as

prevalent in Glendale as methamphetamine or cocaine, is cut into sticks

before being sold, he added.

Investigators believe Masihi is a "facilitator," not the person or

persons dealing the drug, Tweedy said.

Police are hopeful the ongoing investigation will lead to more

arrests.

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