A 12-year-old boy was arrested Sunday afternoon by city police and charged with dealing cocaine about a block away from where an 11-year-old was picked up in East Baltimore for a similar offense two weeks ago.
The boy was arrested by an Eastern District patrol at 5:55 p.m. in the 1900 block of East Lanvale Street. He was the third child under 13 to be arrested in the Eastern District on drug charges within the past two weeks.
The 12-year-old told police that he was confronted on the street by an 18-year-old dealer, who threatened him and then flashed a wad of bills that looked to be about $1,000 and told him, "This could be yours if you work for me."
Police said the boy was arrested with 23 vials of cocaine. The boy told police he had been holding the drugs for the 18-year-old for only a short time before he was spotted by the patrol.
"At this point, we're not surprised anymore," said Officer Richard Long of the Eastern District's drug enforcement unit. "All of them are using the threat of intimidation as a reason. But now, as a reason for this kid, money was a reason. There's not intimidation in every case. . . . It was the lure of the money.
"This kid has been out there. He knows all the players [dealers]."
The boy, a sixth-grade student, was released Sunday evening to the custody of his mother.
Last week, a 10-year-old boy was arrested on a playground swing set on Holbrook and Hoffman streets with a small amount of money and several vials of cocaine stuffed in his socks. He told police he was intimidated by two 15-year-old dealers into holding the drugs.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's order for police to patrol city playgrounds, to prevent incidents of intimidation against younger children, went into effect yesterday.
The directive, issued Friday, orders police to increase patrols of playgrounds and schoolyards and to keep an eye out for young children in the company of older youths. Police will pay special attention that teen-agers playing basketball are of comparable age and that older children are not mingling with younger children on swings, seesaws and other equipment intended for smaller youngsters.
Sgt. Jack L. Spicer, a police spokesman, said there were no incidents during the patrols yesterday.