years out of a Pacoima car wash, according to John Fernandes, acting
special agent in charge of the DEA in Los Angeles.
"This is probably the best seizure from an organization that had
the capabilities to bring in large quantities of opium and the
network to distribute it," Fernandes said Friday.
Authorities seized about 88 pounds of raw opium, Fernandes said,
adding that it had a street value of about $10 million. About $16,000
in cash and several handguns was also seized.
The ring's activity goes back a decade, Glendale Police Chief
Randy Adams said. Glendale Police had arrested several of the people
in the past for possession of opium, and Glendale Police
vice/narcotics Investigators Craig Tweedy and Bob Breckenridge used
that information to develop files on the ring.
Thursday's bust was a joint effort by the department, the DEA, the
FBI and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take
down the whole network, Adams said
"It's a good example of what you get when you collectively join
forces," Adams said. "You get some pretty good results."
The alleged opium ring was one of the most sophisticated drug
organizations he had ever seen, Fernandes said, and it took the work
of several agencies to dismantle the network.
"The Glendale Police Department works from the bottom up,"
Glendale Police Lt. Gary Montecuollo said. "The DEA works from the
top down. Sometimes, we meet in the middle."
Aspet Tony Abramian, 41, Ardash Harytoonian -- also known as
Artoosh Harytoonian -- 56, Joseph Isagulyan, 43, Valod Davoodi, 36,
Katrin Konaraki, 32, and Nejdeh Yeroomian, 49, all of Glendale, were
arrested Thursday, along with Malek Khodaverdy, 52, of Sun Valley,
Jalal Dehbashibehbahani, 45, of Los Angeles, and Andranik
Khodaverdian, 55, of La Canada Flintridge. Several search warrants
were issued and served on their homes, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom
Also arrested were Shahin Khodagalian, of Burbank, Mario Enrique
Gonzalez, of Chino, Janhagir Lahigi, of Tarzana, Edik Alexi, of Van
Nuys, Haymak Yeroonian, of Granada Hills, and Arsalan Kuchikali, of
The group, allegedly masterminded by Khodaverdy, reportedly worked
out of Custom Car Wash at 12719 Osborne St. in Pacoima, across the
street from the Los Angeles Police Department's Foothill Division
While Afghanistan warlords grew the opium and the drug made its
way through Iran and Europe into California, to be funneled across
the rest of the United States, there was no evidence Friday that any
profits were traced back to Taliban forces, the Al Qaeda terrorist
network or Afghan warlords, Lorenz said.
The 14 people, being held Friday in federal custody, were indicted
Thursday on felony charges of conspiracy and money laundering. If
convicted, each faces 10 years to life in prison.