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Father, 2 Sons Involved In Ring

POSTED: 6:52 am EST November 3, 2005

NEWARK, N.J. -- Five people including a father and his two sons pleaded guilty Wednesday to running an illegal drug distribution ring that flooded Connecticut and the Boston area with the powerful painkiller OxyContin.

Louis Gallicchio Sr., 65, and his two sons Nicholas, 38, and Michael, 36, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy, as did Nicholas Gallicchio's girlfriend, Gabriella Amarilla, 27, and Eric Love, 25. Each of the defendants, except for Michael Gallicchio, of North Arlington, lives in Newark.

They admitted before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano that they purchased the pills in the Newark area, and that Love and Amarilla transported them to Connecticut and Massachusetts to be sold to other drug dealers between April 2002 and November 2004.

The drug conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.

The government also is seeking forfeiture proceedings against the defendants to recover $1 million in what it contends are profits from illegal drug dealing.

Authorities identified Louis Gallicchio Sr. as the ringleader, and described him as a known Lucchese crime family associate. They said he befriended Newark street gang members and recruited them to be runners, delivering huge shipments of 80-milligram OxyContin pills bought illegally from two pharmacies in Newark.

They transported thousands of Oxycontin pills each week to illicit suppliers in New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Most of the drugs ended up in the area from Boston to Brockton, Mass., authorities said.

Louis Gallicchio and Love are being held without bail, while the others are free pending sentencing in February.

Prescription painkillers such as OxyContin now rank second to marijuana as the most-abused drugs in the country, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

Addicts are drawn to it because they can get a 12-hour dose in one sitting by crushing the tablets and snorting them or dissolving them and injecting the solution, experts say. The drug has been implicated in more than 100 overdose deaths nationwide.
 
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