$150-Million PCP Ring Broken With Arrests of 11 Nationwide
Federal agents and police have broken up a nationwide PCP manufacturing and distribution ring that annually produced up to $150 million worth of the drug, made in Los Angeles with chemicals stolen from Eastman Kodak Co.
At least 11 people were arrested coast-to-coast Friday and more than $1 million worth of PCP was seized or purchased by undercover officers during a 10-month investigation into the drug operation, authorities said.
The base chemical for PCP, a film-cleaning solvent known as piperidine, was pilfered from the Eastman Kodak plant in Rochester, N.Y., by two employees and smuggled to Washington, authorities said.
The piperidine was then flown to Los Angeles, where the PCP was made and shipped back to the Baltimore-Washington area by airplane, by rail through Chicago, or by car through Texas and the South.
In Los Angeles, Drug Enforcement Administration investigators raided a suspected drug laboratory in the 1600 block of West 58th Street and arrested two women, DEA spokesman Johnnie Granados said. It was not immediately known what was found at the lab or whether other labs were raided.
The two women, Lavall Nolan and Brenda McGowan, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to possess and distribute the drug and booked at Sybil Brand Institute, Granados said.
Agents expected to arrest three more suspects in the area, he said.
The PCP ring was believed to have been “one of the main” pipelines of the drug into the nation’s capital and Baltimore, said Carl Jackson, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Washington field office.
The accused mastermind of the drug ring was identified by police as James Holcomb, 46, of Hillcrest Heights, Md., who was arrested at a hotel in nearby Oxon Hill.