French Connection Smuggler Nabbed Once Again

73-year-old faces sentencing for another drug plot
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 1, 2014 2:17 AM CST
French Connection Smuggler Nabbed Once Again
Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider starred in the 1971 movie.   (My Blu-ray Collection)

Alfred Catino's criminal record is a colorful history of drug dealing and prison sentences dating back to the 1960s, when federal authorities say he was part of the French Connection heroin-smuggling ring that spawned an Oscar-winning movie of the same name. The 73-year-old's illicit career took him from the streets of the Bronx in New York City to France to Connecticut's Gold Coast, where he soon will be sentenced for his role in yet another drug operation. He was one of 16 people busted in Connecticut in 2012 in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana, cocaine, and oxycodone. He pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge and is set to be sentenced Dec. 16 in federal court in Bridgeport. He remains detained without bail.

Law enforcement officials had no idea about Catino's connection to the French Connection case when they arrested him, a DEA special agent says. "Once we ran some checks on him, it was surprising," the agent says. The French Connection was the major supplier of heroin to the United States, sending in hundreds of millions of dollars' worth for years until police busted it up in the early 1970s. Catino has been imprisoned for selling heroin multiple times since 1966, most recently getting a nearly 12-year sentence after a New York bust in 1997. "His history, I suppose it is what it is," his lawyer says. "I'm not going to make a blanket statement about him. He is an incredibly intelligent man who has always been kind and courteous to me." (More The French Connection stories.)

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