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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2003

Contact: David Jacobson at (313) 234-4220

DEA Announces Takedown Of "Operation Northern Star" In Detroit

photo at press conference
Pictured from left to right: Chief Richard Patterson, RCMP Sgt. Wally Dowhayko, US Attorney Jeffrey Collins, SAC Braun US Customs ASAC Jim Dinkens

Detroit, MI-On April 15, 2003, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Detroit, The United States Attorneys Office (USAO) for the Eastern District of Michigan, the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Cyprus Police Department Drug Law Enforcement Unit and the Birmingham, Michigan Police Department announced the culmination of "Operation Northern Star." This initiative was an international effort targeting organizations that smuggled pseudoephedrine directly from corporations in Canada into the United States through the Detroit/Windsor border crossing and distributed it to major Mexican methamphetamine production syndicates on the Westcoast of the United States and in Mexico. Methamphetamine is the number one drug threat in rural America and pseudoephedrine is the key chemical precursor for its production.

The operation involved the distribution of approximately 37 tons of pseudoephedrine capable of producing nearly 60,000 pounds of methamphetamine netting these groups tens of millions of dollars in profits. The pseudoephedrine was obtained from three corporations in Canada identified as: Formulex, G.C. Medical Products and Frega Inc. Frega Inc. was charged in a criminal complaint in the Eastern District of Michigan.

This case resulted in the indictment/criminal complaint of the following individuals:

  • Wassim ZOGHEIB, 33 yoa, Lebanese/Canadian citizen
  • Michelle FALLAH, 52 yoa, Lebanese citizen
  • Mounir KATCHO, 68 yoa, Lebanese citizen
  • Roger St. LAURENT, 53 yoa, Canadian citizen
  • Mohammed AWAD, 35 yoa, U.S. citizen
  • Nasir BASTE, 25 yoa, U.S. citizen
  • Kamal JUDEH, 34 yoa, Brazilian citizen
  • Shahin JUDEH, 32 yoa, unknown citizenship
  • Ali SALEM., 25 yoa, Jordanian citizenship
  • Guido CAPUANO, 78 yoa, Canadian citizen
  • Daniel VASHON, 37 yoa, Canadian citizen
  • Francis CHENARD, 32 yoa, Canadian citizen

On April 15, 2003, the Cyprus Police, working in concert with the DEA offices in Detroit and Nicosia, arrested the two most prominent defendants in this multi-jurisdictional initiative in Cyprus. The Cypriot Police provided exhaustive and invaluable assistance, which resulted in the arrest of Michelle FALLAH and Mounir KATCHO. Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Braun said, "The DEA is grateful to the Cypriot Police, who have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the DEA on a number of occasions on international investigations to reduce drug trafficking. We're very proud of our partnership."

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