'French Connection' Heroin Dealer Busted Once Again

By John Lavitt 12/11/14

Alfred Catino, who was part of the famous heroin ring from the 1970s, faces new drug charges in Connecticut.

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Linked to the French Connection heroin smuggling ring that spawned the 1971 Oscar-winning film of the same name, Alfred Catino just can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

Despite his several prison stints for heroin dealing since the 1960s, the seventy-three-year-old now faces sentencing in another drug operation in Connecticut. Catino has been detained without bail since being arrested in 2012 due to being considered a flight risk.

Catino was one of 16 people busted by law enforcement officials in Connecticut for distributing marijuana, cocaine, and oxycodone in Fairfield County. Law enforcement had no idea about Catino's history when they arrested him. "Once we ran some checks on him, it was surprising," said Brian Boyle, an assistant special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. "He had some connections a while back to the French Connection case, and then he surfaces here."

His attorney, Frank Riccio II, said that Catino doesn't deny being part of the French Connection and shrugged his shoulders when asked about representing such a notorious client. "His history, I suppose it is what it is," he said. "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."

The French Connection was the major supplier of heroin to the United States in the 1960s and early 1970s. Although Catino was a small-time player, he was a key figure that led to the famed bust. But apparently Catino has not learned his lesson. Court records show that he's been in and out of prison practically his whole life. He was indicted in 1966 for selling heroin in the Bronx and sentenced to five years in prison.

In 1974, he was convicted by a federal jury of aain selling heroin again in New York City and sentenced to 12 years in prison, but court records reveal that he fled to France while out on bail appealing the conviction. He was caught dealing heroin in France and sentenced to five years in French prison in 1978.

Deported to New York in 1981 after that jail term ended, Catino began serving the 12-year sentence he previously skipped. Between then and today, there have been numerous other criminal convictions as well.

Catino has pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge and will be sentenced on December 16 in federal court in Bridgeport.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.