Daily News from New York, New York on September 6, 1970 · 160
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Daily News from New York, New York · 160

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 6, 1970
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SUNDAY NEWS, SEPTEMBER 6, 1970 S29 . - V . ;V f . v Slaying of William Ramsey Ta 3d If . ."j:- X- -S' I, (above) and John G. Gast (leff) is j; 4 , - V - -believed to be directly linked to "riMri '" " ,-4T I what Capt. Clarence Dupnilc (right). : W - - ' chief of Tucson detectives, de- ::n;; i t lillliii scribes as burn artists, or robbers , XT15 -' " who prey on drug dealers. nt riiifmitriiiiiiiiiitiuiiiiiiMliiliTriiiiiiimiitiiiiiTiillilltttlHtffiinititsintiHitHiiiijfrnMMiiiiiiMiiniiitiittiiiitit A Justice Story ;"ia::!i'mrt!ll!!;!:l!li!!lr,lilllIll!llli:il!i;N!llllliltS!ll:3n ment across the line in bulk and drops it by parachute in-some desert area where his dealer contact is waiting. Not surprisingly, as Capt. Dupnik reports, large numbers of out-of-state drag dealers are thus being attracted to Tucson or are sending their representatives there to pick up fine-quality, inexpensive marijuana. However, the Tucson locals are not satisfied with merely peddling the drag. Within the past six months, there has been a new twist in the racket which Capt. Dupnik describes as the "burn" xr "rip-off." "The dealers have fallen prey . to what appears to be a well-organized group of 'burn' artists robbers most of -whom are apparently willing to use extreme violence to acquire the money of the would-be buyers," the captain explains. In a typical case, he says, a group of marijuana buyers from an Eastern city pool their funds for a large-scale buy. Then they send a represtative to Tucson to pick up 100 kilo of the stuff or even as much as 200 or 300 kilos. At 2.2 pounds per kilo, they're dealing in a lot of weed. "The buyer may have heard about certain dealers here or are in possession of phone numbers of persons living here," says Lt. Richard Smith, head of the Narcotics Control Unit of the Tucson police. ' "There is some indication that this '"burn' operation has become very big business. We suspect that some of these buyers who represent a group of dealers are actually in on the 'burn' operation themselves. "They really are steerers who collect the money from the source in the East and, pretending to go after the niari- juana, actually conspire with persons in Tucson to have the money taken from them in a 'robbery.' "These are the so-called robbery victims who usually report their alleged loss to the police. Then they return to their associates back East, empty-handed on the surface. Actually, their pockets are bulging with their friends' money, their share of the divided 'take' from the robbers with whom they were in cahoots. "It's the ones who are not steerers but genuine buyers for a group who end up dead or at least face that possibility." It isn't always the out-of-towner who is victimized. - Sometimes, the roles are switched. Last April, two New Yorkers went to the home of a young student, ostensibly to make a drug delivery. Instead, they pulled guns and robbed the youth of $3,000. This case was reported, and two suspects were arrested. . In addition to the police in Tuscon, Pima County law enforcement authorities are concerned over the constantly-growing problem. According to Sheriff Wal-don V. Burr, he hears of at least two or three cases every week, and he agrees with the city officials that most buyers are unlikely to report having been robbed. That is,' the real victims don't file complaints. T I HE "BURN" is accomplished in one of two ways. On occasion, the supplier acts alone in robbing the purchaser ne has set IP- Other times, it is a more complicated procedure in which he fingers the victim for conspirator Surprisingly, the "burn" often involves small amounts of money. "Sometimes just $ 100," Sheriff Burr says. The sheriff puts the primary blame on the greed and naivete of the out-of-towners, "most of whom see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." That is, he explains, they expect to make a fast buck out of the transaction. "They come here, not knowing the territory or the people they're dealing with," he says. "They mingle with the pushers and the users and flash the money." Why don't the local dealers just sell the stuff to these very eager buyers, take their profit and let it f;o at that? "It's simply easier for the peddler to set someone up and rob him," Capt. Dupnik answers. "It's mi'ch more profitable. The dealer of yesterday has become the highwayman of today's flourishing marijuana traffic." Lt. Smith believes that "the iceberg theory" applies to the -situation in Tuc- . son. "We feel that we are only aware of a very small percentage of the actual traffic in this area," he says, ; j., "Based on what we hear from in formants and what is actually reported, we ieel that 'burns' are occurring in our backyard six or eight times a month. "Marijuana is going from $80 to $100 a kilo in the Tucson area, and it sells to the dealer in New York City, for example, for double to triple that amount- - "Our traffic in marijuana extends to all points of the United States, including Portland and Seattle. Since those cities are closer to Los Angeles than we are. it suggests that grass is more available or cheaper here, possibly both." On the plus side, there seems to be little evidence that the professional underworld has moved in. "We do know of one instance in which a major marijuana supplier from Seattle came to Tucson," Capt. Dupnik says. "We believe that he had syndicate backing to some degree. "While we were still investigating his activities, he returned to Seattle, where . he was murdered. Shot twice in the neck. He was a young Canadian. "But this is the only evidence we have seen to actually link ny underworld powers to the traffic in marijuana here. "We believe that the stfnclicate has little control over trafficking here. As nearly as we can judge, it would simply be impossible for any one organization to control an activity as gargantuan as the marijuana flow through Tucson." I HE DETECTIVE chief discloses that there has recently been "a high incidence" of hashish in his city. Some of the Eastern buyers are giving it "preferential cona'deration," Capt. Dupnik says. While similar to marijuana, hashish is estimated as being at least five times the strength of normal grass content. "Eighteen months ago, the use -f hashish and the trafficking in it in our area were virtually nonexistent," Dupnik adds. "But that is no longer the case. "We know that hashish was probably what was being sold at the time that oui most expensive 'burn' took place about three months ago. "A buyer from the East arrived m town with $30,000, enough to purchase 300 kilos of marijuana. He lost it all at gunpoint. We heard about this transaction only through informers." 7 - However, 30Gs was by no means the record loss. According to the Tucson authorities, a 29-year-o!d teacher from the University of Illinois was taken for a total of $43,500 in three drug-buying deals. His worst misadventure which reportedly cost him $20,700 took place laslt March 21 when he met two girls at a party in Tucson and was told that they couid get marijuana for him. As ha later complained to the police, he and a friend took the women to his motel room. The next morning, they were gone. So was his money. In addition to such flimflams and armed robberies, Tucson's unwanted boom in narcotics has led to murder. I ROBABLY the first drug related slaying occurred last Nov. 3. Chester Frank Fegursky Jr., 25, was found shot in the chest and back, apparently with a .22-caliber gun. While Pima County authorities directed the investigation, Capt. Dupnik fooperated. Fegursky, he disclosed, "had been waiting to testify as our prime witness against several persons in a number of heroin and marijuana cases." Some of the suspects knew that Fegursky was an informer because his name had come out during preliminary hearings. What they may not have known was that his testimony still could be used because it was on record in depositions, according to Dupnik. "We also know of three murders directly related to the 'burn' activity in our city," Dupnik reports. Two such "burn" slayings which shocked the nation by their callousness were inspired by the drug-buying visit to southern Arizona of two college students from Long Island, N.Y. The pair were David K. Anderson Jr., 21, of Syosset, and W7il!iam Ramsey Tait 3d, 22, of Merrick, both seniors at the State University at Stony Brook, L.L In Arizona, through a third man, 24-year-old John George Gast. they met two 18-year-olds. The teenagers, Steve Lee Lewis and Derrell Lynn Doyal, wera to lead them to a major drug deal in Mexico, according to the story later related by Anderson. But as they drove along a freeway there was a sudden explosion of gunfire, and slugs ripped through Anderson, Tait and Gast. (NEXT WEEK: Murderous enJ to a well-financed quest for marijuana.)

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