Two fugitives identified as ringleaders in an international drug smuggling operation have been arrested and authorities have seized three tons of marijuana valued at $9.6 million, U.S. Customs agents announced Thursday in Los Angeles.
The suspects, William Joseph Richards, 37, of Malibu, and Thomas Joseph Gaglia, 42, of Palm Desert, were arrested Wednesday night as they were separating 10-pound blocks of marijuana from a shipment of teak flooring tiles from Thailand, Customs agent Ed Adamson said.
Richards, who allegedly goes by the alias of William Myles Steele, and Gaglia, reportedly also known as Auguste Cassini, were wanted in San Diego on various felony charges related to cocaine dealing, Adamson said. He described them as "kingpins in a major narcotics smuggling organization."
Agents on Thursday continued serving 15 federal search warrants, a process that was expected to continue over the next few days at various locations in the Los Angeles area, as authorities seek to uncover financial records that might be connected with the drug smuggling operation, Adamson said.