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Efforts to frustrate Attempts at Smuggling Aboard Ships Spurred by Recent Haul

Customs officers will increase their vigilance in searching ships coming here from France and Mediterranean ports to frustrate attempts to smuggle narcotics, Herman Lipski, deputy surveyor in charge of the service's enforcement division, said yesterday.

A group of officers from the division uncovered about fifteen pounds of pure morphine here Monday on the transport Marine Marlin. The cache was said to be worth $500,000 in the illicit drug market.

Six crew members were said to be "under suspicion" and an investigation by customs investigators was said last night to be continuing. No arrests have been reported.

Mr. Lipski and other Customs spokesmen said that the morphine had been brought aboard the Marine Marlin by members of an international smuggling ring.

They expressed the belief that the ring was the same one that hid large narcotics shipments aboard the French freighter St. Tropez and the Government owned liner John Ericsson last year. On Feb. 4, 1947, Customs men seized heroin valued in the illicit market at $250,000 on the Ericsson. On March 18, 1947, operatives if the service uncovered heroin valued at $1,147,500 on the ST. Tropez.

Harry M. Durning, Collector of the Port said after Monday's seizure on the Marine Marlin that he believed the ring's activities had been ended.

"No gang can stand losing that money," he commented.

On orders from the collector, however, Mr. Lipski said "special attention" will be given to all ships coming from suspect areas. Le Havre has been listed as the main base of operations of the smugglers.

Mr. Lipski said that there had been narcotics seizures almost daily since a drive against the illicit traffic began about a year ago. In addition to the morphine seized on the marine marlin, a small quantity of marijuana was confiscated on the ship. Another small marijuana seizure was made on the freighter Spitfire Monday. She arrived here from the Far East Saturday.


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