Twenty-one members of an alleged national heroin distribution network, which called itself "The Family" and conducted extensive training sessions for new members, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore, law enforcement officials said yesterday.
Investigators said the drug ring allegedly smuggled into the country as much as four kilos of heroin a week from Tijuana, Mexico, before distributing it to outlets here and in Maryland and Virginia, as well as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, California, and Michigan.
Investigators said the drug ring supplied heroin to the Anacostia area of the District and would make regular deliveries several times a week. One man delivered 90 ounces of heroin - worth over $100,000 - to the District area alone over four trips, one investigator said.
Law enforcement officials described an Ypsilanti, Mich, location as the "Midwestern office" for the ring's illicit narcotics distribution, and said records seized there under a search warrant last summer indicated that office along had distributed at least $500,000 worth of drugs over a five-month period.
One source said the investigation turned up evidence that the ring conducted extensive training sessions for its family members, including classes in "role playing, keeping accounts, dealing with customer, organizing lower echelon distribution networks," and other procedures.
Women members of the ring, the source said, were used to transport the heroin into California on commercial airline flights. The drugs, concealed in purses and clothing, were distributed throughout the country using the same techniques.
Identified in the indictment as the alleged ringleader of the operation is Richard Jack Phillips, 33, of Playa Del Rey, Calif., who has been described to investigators as the president of a Los Angeles concert-promotion company named Aster Productions.
The indictment, which was returned last Wednesday in Baltimore but remained sealed under court order until various arrests were made yesterday, was based on a year-long Drug Enforcement Administration investigation that included court-ordered wiretaps in Maryland and Michigan, investigators said.
The investigator alleged that Phillips would send his top lieutenant, identified in the indictment as 25-year-old Charles Vincent Wagner, of Oakland, into various areas across the country to contact established heroin dealers and promise them in a ready supply of the drugs if they became distribution in "The Family."
Local DEA official Joe Milano said the investigation began in Washington in January, 1976, after Wagner allegedly sold five ounces of heroin to a DEA undercover agent here. At the same time, Wagner was trying to interest officer drug dealers in his product, investigators alleged.
Sources familiar with the case described the youthful drug ring as "very entrepreneurial in its approach in trying to break ground in new cities for marketing its product."
The widespread nature of the ring necessitated an unusual amount of cooperation between federal law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The case was jointly presented to the federal grand jury in Baltimore by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert B. Schulman of Maryland and Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter O. Mueller of the major crimes division in the District.
Investigators said the drug ring supplied heroin to the Anacostia area of the District, and would make regular deliveries several times a week. One man delivered 90 ounces of heroin to the District area along during four trips, one investigator added.
The members of the alleged ring never kept the illegal drug at the locations where they lived, but always had it nearby in "stash places," one investigator said.
"This was a tightly knit, professionally run operation, "the federal investigator said.
Eleven individuals who police believe are members of the drug ring had been arrested by late yesterday afternoon, according to DEA officials.
Charged in the Washington area were three residents of the District, one District Heights man, and a resident of Virginia.