Three youths -- including a 10-year-old boy who was playing on a swing set -- have been arrested at an East Baltimore playground by undercover police officers and charged as juveniles with possession of cocaine.
Police said the youths had been watched by undercover officers yesterday afternoon on the playground at Holbrook and Hoffman streets for a short period before one officer approached the 10-year-old and found four vials of suspected cocaine and cash stuffed in his socks.
The two older boys, both 15, who were suspected of selling vials of cocaine for $10 each, also were arrested, police said. The older boys would enter a house near the playground to drop off the money and get more drugs to sell, police said.
The older boys used the 10-year-old as a "drug stasher," a person who appears to be uninvolved with drugs so that police will overlook him or her when they enter a neighborhood, police said.
The boy told police he was carrying the vials of cocaine out of fear of being assaulted if he refused.
All three youths were released to the custody of their parents pending action by juvenile authorities.
Lt. Kathleen Patek, of the Eastern police district, said the area where yesterday's arrests occurred has been the location for heavy drug trafficking in recent weeks.
One officer said much of the drug dealing is done openly and blatantly.
"It's not done very secretively there at all," the officer said. "We can and will make many more arrests in that area. This probably won't be the last drug arrests there. It's just too bad that much of what we're seeing now involves kids."
Patek said that despite yesterday's arrests and an incident last week involving an 11-year-old boy, juveniles are not heavily involved in drug activity.
Last week, Eastern District police arrested the 11-year-old and found five vials of cocaine and $160 in his sweat pants. He also was released to his parents.