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The New York Times March 5, 1950
New York Leads All Districts in U. S.-- Marijuana Seizures Increase in Volume


WASHINGTON, March 4-- The Bureau of Narcotics and the United States Customs Service today reported a sharp increase in arrests for narcotics and marijuana violations during 1949. Total arrests were 5,273, against 3,895, in 1948.

Arrests in New York were the highest in all of the country's fifteen districts: 1,268 for 1949 as against 928 in 1948.

The gross amount of narcotics seized last year was only slightly larger than in 1948, although marijuana was taken in greatly increased volume.

The annual report of the two Treasury agencies came as the Narcotic Drugs Commission of the United Nations was preparing to hold its annual meeting next month at New York. This group, composed of the heads of the narcotic services of the member countries, makes plans to stop narcotics production and shipments at the sources abroad.

Nations Cooperate

Harry J. Anslinger, head of the United States bureau, is our representative on the commission. The United States, he said, for fifteen years has worked with other governments on drying up of the illicit traffic. Occasionally, he said, we send men abroad to aid other governments.

The report released emphasized several important cases brought to justice during 1949. One of these concerned thousands of vials of adulterated heroin, packaged as medicinal morphine and bearing counterfeit manufacturers' labels and internal revenue strip stamps, seized in breaking up a ring that operated along the Atlantic Seaboard.

This investigation led from New York to the Carolinas and ended in December with the arrest of sixteen traffickers in the South and important distributors in New York and Philadelphia.

Peter Locascio, believed to be one of the leaders in the enterprise, was arrested in New York by Federal men and city detectives. They found in a cleverly concealed cache in the kitchen of the house about five and one­half pounds of high­grade heroin, and 3,048 vials of "morphine," each containing five grains, and bearing the forged labels and stamps.

Brought High Prices

Because the vials resembled "drug store stock," they were commanding premium prices.

A feature noted in 1948 continued last year, the report said. This was the reappearance of substantial amounts of cocaine, which for several years had been a small factor in the traffic. This upsurge is believed to have been stopped by the Federal men working in cooperation with the Peruvian Government.

All seizures of narcotic drugs, including opium in its varied forms, morphine, heroin, codeine, ethyl­morphine, cocaines, demerol and amidone, totaled 4,955 ounces last year, as compared with 4,905 ounces in 1948, according to the report.

In its law enforcement activities at ports and borders the Customs Service accounted for 2,782 ounces of the total amount of narcotic drugs taken during 1949. This was a decline from the 1948 figure, 3,718 ounces. Seizures by agents of the Bureau of Narcotics in the internal drug traffic increased from 1,187 ounces in 1948 to 2,173 in 1949.

Marijuana seizures increased. A total of 54,342 ounces were taken in 1949, as compared with 52,036 ounces in 1948. In the internal traffic, narcotics Bureau operatives took 13,217 ounces of the weed, a decline from the 15,492 ounces taken in 1948. A large increase was noted in the amounts of marijuana seized during the year by Customs agents. Their total captures in 1949 amounted to 41,215 ounces, as compared with 36,514 ounces in 1948. Customs reported several individual seizures of 100 pounds or more on the Mexican border.

Prepared forms of marijuana peculiar to Turkey, Syria, India and Africa were taken by Customs in considerable quantity at Atlantic and Gulf ports. These included "takrouri," "bhang," "dagga" and "hashish."

Raw opium seizures made by Customs men were heaviest during 1949 at Atlantic ports, and consisted for the most part of drugs originating in India and Iran. Substantial lots, however, of both raw and prepared opium were taken at Mexican border points and on the Pacific Coast.

The principal external sources for illicit narcotics entering the United States during the year were Iran, Turkey, India, Mexico, China and peru. Peru was the largest source for cocaine; Mexico the largest for marijuana.

Robberies, burglaries and other thefts from medicinal stocks of narcotic drugs continued during 1949 at a slightly reduced but substantial rate, the report showed.

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