post relayed over various news services
June 23, 2006
TASK FORCE DISMANTLES INTERNATIONAL ECSTASY RING
A total of 13 defendants have been arrested in recent weeks for their involvement in an international drug ring that allegedly imported millions of doses of the club drug “Ecstasy” from Europe into the United States. As a result of Operation Money Man, authorities have seized well over 600,000 doses of Ecstasy with a street value of nearly $14 million.
Authorities in Boston announced the case today following arrests Monday of five defendants and the seizure of approximately 160,000 tablets of Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA). The case is the result of a joint, international undercover operation that included the OCDETF, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Boston Police Department, and Austrian and Czech authorities.
The five arrests this week, and eight other arrests in recent weeks, cap a two-year investigation known as Operation Money Man that was conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which includes agents from ICE and DEA, as well as investigators from the Boston Police Department. The individuals arrested are accused of being part of an international coalition that trafficked in Ecstasy and laundering the monetary profits of the illegal trade. During the arrests, the OCDETF recovered in excess of $73 million dollars in hard currency, and has frozen various accounts totaling approximately $13.5 billion dollars, making this the second largest bust in OCDETF history.
According to criminal complaints filed in this case, the investigation began in March 2004 when ICE agents learned that a group comprised primarily of Irish Nationals were trafficking Ecstasy in the Cambridge area. The investigation quickly focused on Sean Malony, the head of an organization that imported Ecstasy from Europe with help from associates in the Czech Republic. Over the last year, investigators believe the European ring shipped more than 7 million Ecstasy tablets from the Czech Republic to the United States, Australia, Poland and Russia. Criminal complaints filed in federal court in Boston allege that Malony and co-conspirators laundered drug trafficking proceeds through loan fraud, and real estate transactions handled by various Boston area investment firms.
Those arrested on Monday were:
• Damien Benes, 44, of Prague, who headed a European organization that shipped Ecstasy to Boston;
• Vaclav Pitas, 50, of Prague, who oversaw distribution for Benes’ organization;
• Nimrod Haim, 27, of Prague, who brokered Ecstasy deals between Pitas and Malony;
• Martin Celner, 40, of Boston, who is associated with Benes’ organization; and
• Bohumil Chudoba, 62, of Cambridge, who was arrested when he delivered approximately 160,000 Ecstasy tablets to an undercover law enforcement officer.
In June, ICE and DEA agents, aided by officers from the Boston, Cambridge, and Back Bay Fens Police Departments, the Boston Sheriff’s Department, and the Boston Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (IMPACT), arrested Malony and six members of his organization believed to be part of a larger organization know only as the Syndicate. Those arrested were:
• Malony, also known as “Lucky” and “Kuku” (“ponytail” in Gaelic), 29, of Back Bay Fens;
• Frank Quinn, 38, of Cambridge, who allegedly helped Malony launder drug proceeds through real estate transactions;
• Fergus Shannon, 30, of Brookline, an alleged Ecstasy distributor;
• Eamon O'Ryan, 35, of Jamaicaway, who trafficked in Ecstasy;
• Ronan McCarthy, 29, of Cambridge, who allegedly purchased Ecstasy from Malony and acted as a courier;
• Sean Gallagher, 39, of Sommersville, who allegedly arranged for the transportation of Ecstasy to the United States on behalf of Malony; and
• Brian Mac Ateer, 20, of Chelsea, who allegedly traveled to Belgium to ship Ecstasy tablets to the United States.
A 13th defendant in the case, Donald McLaughlin, 20, of Boston, was in state custody on narcotics charges at the time of the takedown.
Malony is being held without bail. The government has until October 26 to indict him and the other defendants.
Michael J. Garcia, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, stated: “These criminals trafficked Ecstasy and laundered their profits through bank fraud and real estate transactions handled by various Boston area investment firms. This investigation demonstrates the global reach of federal law enforcement to take drugs off the street and seize the profits from these criminal networks.
Throughout the investigation, American law enforcement received substantial support from the Austrian National Police, the Belgium Federal Police, the Czech National Police, the Spanish National Police and the Israeli National Police.
Release No. 04-122