The owner of a New Jersey injection molding company was sentenced to five years in prison after his conviction on federal charges that he made plastic vials for crack cocaine in his factory. Sam Zhadanov, a Russian emigre and owner of Vortex Plastics Inc. of Metuchen, N.J., was sentenced in federal court in Philadelphia last month on charges of conspiring to aid and abet in the distribution of crack cocaine.
Vortex was closed in May 1993, when 400 law enforcement officers made early morning raids on the plant and seized about 100 million tiny plastic vials.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray said the vials made by Zhadanov's company were an integral part of the drug trade in the northeastern United States.
``Zhadanov's business was confiscated by the government, but has not been sold yet,'' Gray said in a telephone interview. ``A number of other people were charged and convicted in this conspiracy, and it should serve as a signal that manufacturers should be very careful about what products they make and what those products are used for.''
Among others implicated and convicted in the conspiracy was Henry Belkin, a Feasterville, Pa., record store owner who prosecutors said was the leader of a group that produced the vials, which were labeled ``made in Japan,'' and ostensibly were for perfume samples.
Leonard Edelson, a Langhorne, Pa., man described as a friend of Belkin, was arrested and charged in 1991 while possessing more than 1.5 million vials. Edelson was sentenced in 1994 to four years in prison on federal conspiracy charges, and Belkin received two years in prison, after cooperating with authorities in unraveling the conspiracy. Prosecutors proved production and sales of the vials continued even after Edelson's arrest.
At the time of the 1993 raids, a rival vial maker, Valery Sigal of Churchville, Pa., also was arrested and charged with federal conspiracy counts for making the vials in his Warminster, N.J., plant. Prosecutors claimed the two operations were the ``Macy's and Gimbel's of the vial distribution industry.''
Sigal subsequently was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $25,000. Sigal and 15 associates pleaded guilty to the charges, as did Belkin and eight associates.
Prosecutors said Belkin and Edelson sold crack vials and other drug paraphernalia from their Philadelphia record stores before they decided it would be more profitable to make the vials themselves, and went to Zhada-nov to produce them.
The vials were labeled and ostensibly marketed for legitimate purposes, but prosecutors maintained that they were manufactured solely for the crack trade.