Contrabandistas are South American smugglers who trade in any and all goods in demand from transistor radios to Bikini panties, a hot item in Peru. In the late '60's a contrabandista ring began trafficking in heroin, receiving the stuff from Marseilles and bellying it into Manhattan, an ingenious operation conceived and directed by a French Corsican, Auguste Joseph Ricord, to circumvent stricter American surveillance of the direct route. The unfolding story of how this Latin connection was eventually uncovered and broken up by U.S. narcs, ending with the imprisonment of M. Ricord and his cohorts earlier this year, bristles with needlesharp excitement -- discovery of scag-laden oscilloscopes kicked off the investigation, narcotic ""sausages"" pop up in a TWA lavatory, government agents trail a mysterious gift in toreador pants, the Scarred Man comes and goes, a jailbreak from New York's West Street house of detention threatens to blow the case prematurely. . . . Investigative reporters Clark and Horrock authenticate these doings with verbatim reports and interviews. Touches the nerves smack-on.