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Three men arrested in opium case

April 16, 2004|By Jennifer Berry

Three Glendale men, including a father and son, have been arrested for their alleged involvement in an opium importation and distribution ring that operated throughout Los Angeles County, according to Glendale police officials.

The six-month investigation began with tips to the Glendale Police Department by family members concerned over their loved ones' alleged involvement in the operation that trafficked opium from Eurasian countries and Mexico, GPD Chief Randy Adams said Wednesday morning at a press conference.

Assisting in the investigation were Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.

Among the eight men arrested in the investigation were Alfred Avans Dergregorian, 61, and his son Alain Avans Dergregorian, 35, as well as Sarhadoun Baitzaya, 46.

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According to police records, Alfred Dergregorian was arrested at 5 p.m. April 9 at his home on East Palmer Avenue while his son was arrested in a different location at the same time. Both face felony charges of possession of narcotics and purchase for sale of narcotics and are being held on $1 million bond at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles.

Baitzaya, who was arrested at 12:40 p.m. April 2 at the GPD headquarters, is being held on $1 million bond at the Los Angeles Men's Central Jail.

On display during the press conference was one-third of the 15 pounds of opium and $150,000 in cash seized during the drug raids.

"I'm standing here ... looking at all of this stuff, and I'm thinking, 'My God.' Thank God for all of you," Glendale Mayor Bob Yousefian said to the various gathered law enforcement agents as he stood in front of the display table.

Also seized were other items, such as financial documents.

"We expect more arrests, more seizures," Adams said, adding that the eight arrests could not have been made without interdepartmental cooperation.

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