French Connection – 1962

By | November 12, 2016

Sonny “Cloudy” Grosso made the arrest of Tony Fuca while wearing a dinner jacket


Policeman works at NYPD property desk where more than $70 million in “French Connection” heroin was slowly stolen from evidence between 1969 and early 1972


“The French Connection” refers to heroin that was smuggled from Turkey to France and then to the USA. In October 1961 New York Police detectives Eddie “Popeye” Egan and his partner Sonny “Cloudy” Grosso spotted a known villain, Patsy Fuca, a foot soldier in the Lucchese crime family, splashing a lot of cash at the Copacabana Club.

This seemingly insignificant sighting led to hundreds of man-hours over four months spent by New York cops tailing American and French gangsters all over the city. The surveillance paid off and in February 1962 the police swooped, arresting most of the smugglers and recovered 50 kg (112 lb) of heroin. At the time it was the largest haul of heroin ever captured in America.

Fuca’s uncle was capo Angelo Tumarino and he was the real target of the surveillance operation. Tumarino entrusted his nephew with arranging the drug shipments from Turkey via France.

The police discovered the first 22 kg (50 lb) of the drug in Patsy Fuca’s loft while the rest was found in the basement of a block of flats. One of the flats was occupied by Tony Fuca, Patsy’s brother. The police discovered the whereabouts of the second stash after spending three weeks hiding in the basement to keep an eye on Tony Fuca. Sonny “Cloudy” Grosso made the arrest of Tony Fuca while wearing a dinner jacket — he had been to a friend’s wedding.


New York City, USA


February 1962


Patsy Rica was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison. The 1971 film starring Gene Hackman bore little resemblance to the actual events. The real crime had no shoot-outs, no deaths and no car chases. Eddie “Popeye” Egan and Sonny “Cloudy” Grosso had bit parts in the film. In 1972 all the heroin was stolen from a police locker and never recovered.

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