A 12-year-old boy who was allegedly carrying 23 vials of cocaine is the third pre-teen to be arrested by city police in the past two weeks on drug offenses.
The youth, a sixth-grade student whose name was not released, was arrested Sunday by Eastern District police officers in the 1900 block of E. Lanvale St.
The boy's arrest came two days after Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke directed police to focus on city playgrounds, where a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old were arrested in separate incidents on recent days.
The mayor's order, effective yesterday, also calls for officers to watch out for children in the company of older youths.
The youth arrested Sunday was charged as a delinquent with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He was released to the custody of his mother pending action by juvenile authorities.
Police said the boy told them he was holding the drugs for an 18-year-old dealer who had threatened and forced him to hold the vials until they were needed. Police doubt that, however, because he had been seen frequently in the area with known drug dealers for several days before his arrest.
Last week, a 10-year-old boy was arrested with several vials of cocaine and cash stuffed in his sock as he played on a swing set on a playground at Hoffman and Holbrook streets in East Baltimore.
The boy also told police he was holding the drugs after being threatened and intimidated by older youths.
An 11-year-old boy was arrested nearly two weeks ago near the area where the 12-year-old was arrested Sunday.
Police spokeswoman Agent Arlene K. Jenkins said the increased attention by police officers to playgrounds will not mean more officers in one area. Instead, the officers who normally patrol the area will focus much of their attention to playgrounds.
"By being familiar with an area he can better observe what's going on," she said.
Jenkins said that with the warm weather, and as the school year approaches an end, more children will be outdoors.
"It's needed by not only the police but by the community," Jenkins said. "We also ask parent to come up to the playgrounds and supervise. It's a joint effort."