WESTMINSTER - Crime Solvers, a volunteer group that assists area police, is asking residents to help solve the Crime of the Week.
This week, the group is targeting the disappearance of a fugitive wanted by the Maryland State Police in Westminster, the Carroll Sheriff's Department and the Westminster City Police.
John Nicholas Coker is described by police as a white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, with brown hair and blue eyes.
He weighs about 160 pounds and was born Sept. 3, 1962.
The fugitive also is known as John Raymond Coker and John Raymond Coles.
Police say his last known address is on Snydersburg Road in Hampstead.
He is wanted by the three police agencies on numerous bench warrants for failing to appear for trial and fraud.
If you have any information on Coker, or believe you may know where he is living or working, please call Crime Solvers at (800) 562-TIPS.
You do not need to give your name, and if your information leads to an arrest, you could earn up to a $1,000 fine.
POLICE QUESTION SUSPECTS
State police in Westminster were questioning two men late Friday in connection with a string of breaking, enterings and thefts in north Carroll over the past 11 weeks, officials said.
Investigators declined to release the names of the suspects.
Police estimate the burglaries have cost county residents thousands of dollars in lost property, jewelry, cash and weapons.
The burglaries have occurred between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. and have followed similar patterns, police said.
In all of the incidents, the burglars have pried open a window that is concealed from the road to gain access to the homes.
Police said many of the 12 burglary victims live in the area of Bachman Valley Road.
State police investigators were searching for two white males in connection with the case.
The first was described as 19 to 22 years old, 5-feet, 11-inches to 6-feet tall, with a slender build and dark, collar-length hair.
The second suspect has a heavy build and short black hair, police said.
Both men were seen fleeing a Dec. 13 burglary at a home on Wine Road in a tan Chevrolet Nova, possibly with Maryland registration tags.
In addition to the regular state police patrols in the area of the burglaries, troopers from the Criminal Investigation Division, the Crime Prevention Unit and Warrant Unit have been assigned to provide extra patrols.
Anyone who observes suspicious vehicles or people in the area of the burglaries or has information on these crimes is asked to call the Westminster barracks of the state police at 848-3111. Anonymous calls can be made to the Crime Solvers hot line at (800) 562-TIPS.
MEN FACE DRUG CHARGES
WESTMINSTER - A Taneytown man and his Miami brother were being held late Friday at the Carroll County Detention on $1 million bond each after being arrested early last week on drug charges.
Fernando A. Hernandez, 28, of the first block of Windy Hills Drive, and his brother, 26-year-old Henry A. Hernandez of Miami, Fla., were arrested last Tuesday and charged under the new drug kingpin statute for possessing a little more than 6 ounces of cocaine, according to State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman.
Hickman said the investigation that led to the two men's arrest began in late August and was conducted by the county Drug Task Force, the Metro Dade Narcotics Unit in Miami, and the Major Violators Unit of the state police.
The officers had Fernando Hernandez under surveillance for several weeks and on Tuesday, they followed his 1988 Chevrolet Astrovan to National Airport in Virginia where he was to pick up his brother. Hickman said surveillance information from Florida told county police Henry Hernandez was carrying drugs in a black satchel.
After Fernandez picked up his brother and the satchel, the officers at the airport continued to follow him on his way back home, while another group set up a phony traffic accident scene on Route 194 in Keymar so the van would have to stop and the men could be arrested, Hickman said.
At 10:47 p.m., the van stopped at the accident and the men were arrested at gunpoint, Hickman said.
Police said they found cocaine in a bag hidden inside a sealed carton of Marlboro cigarettes. Because cellophane remained on the packs of cigarettes and the carton was still sealed, it appeared to the eye that the carton had not been tampered with.
State police 1st Sgt. Dave Reichenbaugh, a member of the county Drug Task Force, said the inside of the cigarette packs also had been sprayed with deodorant and spread with grease to fool drug-sniffing dogs.
A total of 162.3 grams of cocaine was seized, which Hickman said would have a street value of $45,000 after being cut with adulterants.
The Hernandez brothers also were charged with bringing drugs into the state and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
Hickman said a grand jury will be empaneled early next year and more indictments are expected.