A major Miami-to-Baltimore cocaine distribution ring was smashed last night by members of a special narcotics task force that arrested eight suspects who police say pumped $20 million worth of the drug into the metropolitan area each month.
Two other members of the ring named in warrants were being sought today.
The arrests last night capped an undercover investigation that began in November 1989 involving members of the Baltimore police department's Drug Enforcement Section and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. They were assisted by other agencies in the arrests last night.
Those arrested were identified as:
Lazaro Ramirez, 37, of Hialeah, Fla.; George Bonnett, 26, of the 200 block of S. Carey St.; Willie Burke, 39, a Baltimore man who was picked up at a residence in Orlando, Fla.; Donald Hinkle, 25, of the 5000 block of Kramme Ave., Brooklyn Park; Carl Wyatt, 24, of the 2000 block of Wilhelm St.; Jerry Kline, 24, of the 7800 block of American Circle, Glen Burnie; William Bowers, 26, of the 300 block of S. Payson St., and Joseph Schlick, 27, of the 1800 block of Wilkens Ave.
Michael Frey, 26, and Jimmy Clark, 23, both of Baltimore, were being sought by authorities.
According to city police Lt. Thomas Marks, 10 locations were raided and more than 13 pounds of nearly pure cocaine were seized along with more than $87,000 in cash, 13 automobiles, two boats, two motorcycles and two all-terrain vehicles.
The arrests started when Ramirez, the purported Florida connection for the cocaine, drove to the Baltimore area in a 1989 Toyota Camry. Originally, Marks said, Ramirez was scheduled to meet his Baltimore connections at a local motel but changed the meeting place to a hangar-like warehouse in Elkridge.
Four of the arrests took place there, he said.
Agents seized the Toyota immediately, he said, and began searching it for narcotics. The more than 13 pounds of cocaine were found in a false gasoline tank and in the vehicle's firewall between the engine and dashboard.
"Ramirez was going to switch the drugs for money from Bonnett," Marks said. "We were waiting for them."
According to Marks, investigators used aircraft in conducting the probe. He would not say whether any electronic surveillance was done or whether undercover officers had penetrated the ring.
Besides the raid at the Elkridge location, a second warehouse was raided on Stahl Point Road in Curtis Bay, Marks said.
Authorities say that the Stahl Point Road warehouse is where cocaine was cut, diluted and packaged.
Sources close to the investigation, who asked not to be identified, said the major points of distribution were south and southwest Baltimore and some parts of Anne Arundel County.
Besides the narcotics and other evidence, agents confiscated three weapons -- a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistrol and a .38-caliber revolver.
Besides Frey and Clark, more arrests are expected as the
investigation broadens, Marks said.