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Police make heroin arrest near school

Officers say they found $22,000 worth of the drug in man's house, which is near Tobinworld.

April 23, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

SOUTH GLENDALE — A 39-year-old man was arrested at his home Thursday night on suspicion of possessing more than 10 ounces of heroin for sale near a school for students with severe developmental disabilities, police said. The man's 8-year-old son was in the house during the arrest.

Glendale narcotics detectives saw Albert Ghazarian sell the drug to three people at his home in the 900 block of East Harvard Street, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said. Ghazarian's home is a block away from Tobinworld. The school was on spring break this week, and no students were present.

"Officers do believe he was selling during school hours and school days," he said.

Judy Weber, the school's executive director, said she hadn't seen any drug activity, but expressed concerns about the arrests.

"We protect our kids from those things," she said, adding that students are always accompanied by an adult.

Detectives received information that there may have been some narcotics activities in the neighborhood, which had experienced a sudden spike in foot traffic and reports of suspicious people, Lorenz said.

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Detective saw three drug transactions while staking out the house Thursday, he said, adding that each alleged buyer was also arrested.

Two of the people stopped possessed a gram of heroin each, while a third had drug paraphernalia, police said.

Afterward, police obtained a warrant to search Ghazarian's home, where they found $8,000 in cash and 10 ounces of heroin, Lorenz said. The street value of the drugs is at least $22,000, police said.

Detectives suspect Ghazarian had been selling the heroin for "an extensive period of time" because of the number of customers and the large quantity of drugs and cash he had, Lorenz said.

Heroin users often have to support their daily habit by using the drug every four to six hours, Lorenz said. Some users steal to get money to buy drugs, which drives up property crimes in the city, he added.

A drug user can steal $500 to $1,000 worth of valuables or cash daily, which could add up to $30,000 per month, Lorenz said.

Heroin use has been escalating nationally because Mexican drug cartels have increased production and shipment to the U.S., and it's cheaper to buy, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Drug Threat Assessment 2010.

Police allowed an unnamed relative of Ghazarian's to care for his son.

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