Nov. 24, 1947: Airline Passenger Dies En Route to L.A.; Shabby Drug Runner Carried a Fortune in Heroin

L.A. Times, 1947

L.A. Times, 1947

Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.

He was a shabby little man of 44 when he died with $111 in his pockets and a suitcase full of mystery and drugs. Although some people die without a name, the 145-pound man died with several: Ralph Mazy, Ralph Masey, Ralph Macri and Rapeal Mazy.

During the war, Ralph worked at Todd Shipbuilding Corp. in Brooklyn, N.Y., but had a prison record as a drug dealer going back to the 1920s. He died on a United Air Lines flight somewhere between Denver and Los Angeles, where his body was taken off the plane. A mortician from nearby Hawthorne, Jordan E. Dunaway, went through Ralph’s unlocked suitcase and found 2 pounds of pure heroin with a value estimated at $500,000 to $3 million ($4,732,092.98 to $28,392,557.91 USD 2005).

Federal investigators had little luck in backtracking Ralph’s trail. He gave a false address when he bought his ticket, and left most of the talking to a companion, airline officials said. Although his final destination was supposedly San Diego after stops in Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, police speculated that he might have been headed for San Francisco. Investigators also said Ralph was probably a trusted courier because there was apparently no one from the drug ring to meet him in Los Angeles.

The Times never followed up on this story, so there is no further information on the shabby little man or the heroin’s final destination. What’s certain is that drug couriers have come a long way from checking unlocked suitcases as airline baggage.

Quote of the day: “I saved him from being gassed at the pound and now he saved me.”

Stanley B. Rybkowski, night watchman, about Zip the dog, who alerted him to a fire that consumed a furniture store at 1315 Wilshire Blvd., killing firefighter Hugh Travers and Rybkowski’s brother-in-law Vance Norlick, who stopped to look for his pants before fleeing.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, Aviation, Comics, Crime and Courts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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