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Police seize 32 pounds of opium

Four people are arrested after the drugs were discovered by undercover officers.

March 12, 2009|By Veronica Rocha

GLENDALE — Four people, including two Glendale residents, were arrested Tuesday night in connection with a drug ring after undercover police discovered that a 32 1/2 -pound shipment of opium stashed in a metal tin was sent to an apartment in the city from Armenia, officials said.

Lusine Khachatryan, 27, of Glendale; Razmik Alchian, 37, of Glendale; Edmond Bolandi, 37, of Palmdale; and Ali Nouri, 35, of Reseda, were taken into custody just after 8 p.m. Tuesday and booked at the Glendale Police Department jail on suspicion of sales and transportation of drugs, said Lt. Bruce Fox of the Special Investigations Bureau. The drug shipment, which has a street value of $500,000, was likely going to be parceled into smaller amounts to be sold to local residents, Fox said.

“We have had a recent problem arising with heroin and opium,” he said. “It’s growing popularity just in the last year or two.”

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The U.S. Department of Immigration, Customs and Enforcement became suspicious of the package when they found it in Memphis, Tenn., at a Fed-Ex receiving center and discovered the drugs, said Steven Lovett, assistant special agent in charge of the department in Los Angeles.

Most smugglers, especially those who run large operations, generally know that at least one package of many that they ship out will be seized, he said.

“They are just hoping their package gets lost in the mix and gets through,” Lovett said.

Federal agents notified Glendale police that the package had been shipped from Yerevan and was headed to a Glendale apartment on Orange Grove Avenue, Fox said.

A federal agent and Glendale undercover officers, who disguised themselves as mail carriers, went to the apartment Tuesday to deliver the package and a woman signed for it and took it from the officers, Fox said.

Police staked out the apartment to see whether anyone inside was going to transport the shipment, which was concealed inside a large metal tin that was possibly a car part, he said.

Two men exited the house, got into a car and began driving away when police stopped them, seized the drugs and arrested them, Fox said. Police got a warrant to search the apartment and found packaging material similar to Tuesday’s shipment and receipts of other drug loads that the residents received, which Fox said indicated that they had been transporting and selling drugs for a while.

“It’s a drug ring,” he said.

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