The largest wholesale distributors of pornography to the Washington area's flourishing sex shops and the owner of an x-rated movie theatre two blocks from the White House were among those snared yesterday in the FBI's nationwide "MIPORN" dragnet.

Among those indicted in Miami, Fla., was Michael Zaffarano, of New York, who reputedly has organized crime ties and was part-owner of the D.C. Playhouse at 727 15th St. NW. Zaffarano, who was charged with showing obscene films here in 1977 and later was acquitted, dropped dead of an apparent heart attack while FBI agents attempted to serve him with an arrest warrant yesterday.

Zaffarano, along with 44 other alleged pornography merchants, was charged with conspiracy to ship obscene films, magazines and other materials across state lines for commercial distribution and sale.

Also among the indicted was Louis Guglielmi, warehouse manager for Central Sales, Inc., of Baltimore. Search warrants were issued for the windowless brick building occupied by Central Sales on East Baltimore Street and for the premises of Bon Jay, a distributor located in one of Baltimore's modern industrial parks.

Officials have described Bon-Jay as responsible for more than half of the erotica that reaches the District of Columbia. Names of persons associated with the firm have turned up as operators of at least five downtown D.C. book stores, one homosexual movie house and The Adam and Eve massage parlor on 14th Street NW.

Baltimore's third large pornography distributor, Noble News, was not named in the indictment. However, a search warrant was issued for what has been its parent company, Sovereign News, of Cleveland. Rubin Sturmin, the head of Sovereign, was among those charged in the indictment.

The 1978 acquittal of Zaffarano and two other owners of the D.C. Playhouse on charges of showing obscene films was described at the time as a major setback to federal efforts at controlling the types of explicit sex films that can be shown in Washington.

"If this is what they want, this is what I'll show," Zaffarano said after his acquittal.

It was business as usual last night at Zaffarano's D.C. Playhouse, where about 50 men in business suits sat watching the feature film, "Godiva School for Girls." In the lobby, a projectionist said he heard about the indictment and Zaffarano's death on the radio and hoped the events would not affect his job.

Guglielmi, the short, muscular Central Sales manager, commands an East Baltimore warehouse filled with thousands of magazines neatly stacked on metal racks, upturned cardboard boxes filled with marital "aids" in various sizes and shapes and scores of film cartridges.

"I run a clean house," Guglielmi told a visiting Washington Post reporter two years ago. "Everything that comes in here I look at. I'll look page for page. If I see anything I don't like, I pass on it. I draw the line. This looks on the young side; okay, pass. Animals are out, out, out. Bondage, only if it's done in good taste. When you go in with blood and all that stuff, that's sick."

Guglielmi added: "I'm not saying they should leave this business alone. I'm saying how the hell can they allow pot and booze and fights and killings? Where's the priority here? That porno book doesn't kill anybody."

In December 1977, Sturman -- who has been described by officials as possibly the nation's largest pornography dealer -- reportedly acquired eight adult book stores and peep shows in downtown Washington.

In yesterday's indictment, Sturman is alleged to have discussed with an undercover FBI agent in Las Vegas last month the shipments of "obscene, lewd, lascivious and filthy films" and videotape cassettes which had been previously transported to the agent in interstate commerce.

According to the indictment, Guglielmi agreed Dec. 28 in a telephone conversation with an FBI undercover agent in Miami, to ship him "obscene, lewd, lascivious and filthy films" for sale and distribution there.

Bon-Jay Sales, incorporated in 1971, has been described by law enforcement officials as a $3.5 million-a-year operation with more than 30 related businesses in Washington, Baltimore and North Carolina.

Bon-Jay obtains much of its material for sale from Sturmin's Sovereign News, investigators said.

Baltimore police raided Bon-Jay in 1976 and said they found more than $1 million worth of merchandise -- 143,000 separate items -- in the spacious stockroom where cartons were piled 10 high and in a small storage room containing copies of about 400 films. Among these movies were "Animal Lovers" and "Lolly Pops."

Another part of the warehouse, police said, was devoted to manufacturing and repairing peep show booths.

Among Bon-Jay's apparent Washington holdings has been a large adult bookstore at 1405 H St. NW, in the heart of the city's downtown tenderloin district.