Drug Bust Shuts I-95

Posted: April 21, 1989

About 100 federal agents and police began rounding up alleged members of a major drug ring this morning, closing I-95 in both directions to make one arrest and seizing property allegedly purchased with drug profits, including a senior citizens' facility, a law enforcement source said.

The arrest and property seizures were announced at a press conference called by U.S. Attorney Michael M. Baylson, the area's top federal prosecutor, at FBI headquarters at 6th and Arch streets.

At the start of rush-hour traffic, about 6:30 a.m., State Police closed I- 95 near Yardley, in Bucks County, for about 20 minutes as a precaution, according to Sgt. Edward Bowers of the Trevose barracks.

During this period, agents, accompanied by two SWAT teams, raided a house in Yardley to arrest Christian Pasawicz, 32, one of 12 defendants indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury here for allegedly trafficking in hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine between 1980 and 1987.

Pasawicz, who was recently placed on probation for weapons offenses in Bucks County, was arrested without incident, but agents continued searching his home for a cache of weapons and possibly bombs, the source said.

According to the indictment, which was made public today, the targeted drug ring was headed by Charles Hitchens, 36, a Philadelphia man who is now serving a prison term for his conviction in Florida of possession of 20 pounds of methamphetamine, also called "speed."

Hitchens, called "the second-largest methamphetamine dealer in the world" at the press conference, is named as the lead defendant in the Philadelphia case.

The federal investigation of "the Hitchens organization," according to a law enforcement source, provided "the first concrete evidence" of corruption by members of a Philadelphia police drug unit called Five Squad. Six members of the unit recently were tried on federal charges, but a mistrial resulted.

The joint investigation by agents of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Internal Revenue Service and Philadelphia police began in 1984, the source said.

Seized were about 12 properties, in both the city and suburbs, worth about $2 million. One, at 4744 Frankford Ave., is listed in the telephone book as a senior citizens' center.

Counting the defendants already serving prison terms, at least 10 of the 12 defendants were in custody by early morning, the source said.

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