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A major investigation into organized crime in Buffalo was disrupted today when FBI agents arrested one of their key informants on charges of cocaine dealing.

John C. Sacco Jr., 62, a long-time mob figure who agreed last year to work with the FBI in its investigation of organized-crime activities in Buffalo, was arrested today and charged with possession and distribution of cocaine.

While declining to be specific, U.S. Attorney Dennis C. Vacco said he and the FBI decided to prosecute Sacco because Sacco has recently been "less than cooperative" in the ongoing mob investigation. The government had held off its prosecution of Sacco in the drug case because of his cooperation as a witness, Vacco said.

"I would be foolhardy to say this doesn't create an obstacle for our investigation," Vacco said. "But I am not closing the door on his further involvement with us. That is up to him. It's up to him to decide whether he is going to be totally cooperative or not in this investigation."

Sacco was already in the FBI's custody -- as a highly paid government witness -- when agents arrested him.

"Sacco has been picking his spots -- he's been willing to provide information on some matters but not on others. He can't do that," said one law enforcement official close to the case.

Vacco said the charges stemmed from a drug sale at Sacco's North Buffalo apartment on June 26, 1989, when Sacco sold an ounce of the drug to an FBI informant for $1,400.

The transaction took place shortly before Sacco signed on to work with the FBI, Vacco added.

G. Robert Langford, special agent in charge of the Buffalo FBI office, could not be reached to comment. Vacco said he and Langford discussed the case at length before deciding to prosecute Sacco.

When it was revealed last year that Sacco was working with the government, police officials said his cooperation could become one of the most important factors in efforts to prosecute mob figures in the Buffalo region.

Vacco said today he is disappointed about Sacco, but added:

"The prosecution of area mob activities will continue."

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