Warren Christopher Robinson, once a prominent drug dealer in Washington who is now serving a 16-year sentence in a federal penitentiary, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in New York for allegedly directing a heroin-smuggling opeartion from his jail cell.

The indictment, unsealed yesterday before a federal judge in New York City, alleged that Robinson and eight other persons were involved in bringing heroin into the United States from Amsterdam. The heroin, according to the indictment, was distributed in New York and Washington.

The grand jury charged that Robinson was "the head of the organization" and that he "organized, supervised and managed the narcotics purchasing and distribution" while in jail the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York and the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa.

Robinson, 39, ran a drug operation out of his haberdashery-Warren's Men' Shop-on Georgia Avenue prior to his arrest and conviction on drug charges in 1974. Following that conviction, according to federal authorities, another alleged drug dealer in Washington, Linwood Gray, allegedly made contact with some of the people Robinson had used to bring drugs into the United States. Gray is now under indictment here, charged with directing an international drug ring.

According to reliable sources, local officials of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency are checking with New York DEA officials to see if the operation described in the New York indictment was connected in any way with the alleged Gray ring.