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Alleged opium importers plead innocent

April 22, 2004

Eight men, including three Glendale residents, pleaded innocent

Wednesday to charges of conspiracy and importing and transporting

opium to sell out of their businesses.

The men were arrested earlier this month on suspicion of

conspiring to import the drug from Afghanistan and Mexico to sell in

Glendale. The defendants include Glendale residents Sarhadoun

Baitzaya, 46, Alfred Avans DerGregorian, 61, and his son, Alain Avans

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DerGregorian, 35. Each man was being held Wednesday on bail amounts

ranging from $30,000 to $1 million.

The DerGregorians allegedly masterminded the operation and

involved the elder DerGregorian's business associates, who detectives

said they saw selling opium from their businesses in the garment

district of Los Angeles.

The case is scheduled to return to court Thursday for a bail

motion hearing, court officials said. A preliminary hearing date will

be scheduled May 7.

Darleene Barrientos

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