Drug probe leads to police officers, alleged kingpin

June 28, 1991|By Keith Paul

A nine-month joint local and federal investigation netted the arrest of two Baltimore police officers and an alleged Woodlawn drug kingpin along with 11 others during a sweep late Wednesday night and yesterday morning.

Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration said James C. Harris of Shadwell Court was the head of a heroin, crack cocaine and gunrunning ring with a supply line that stretched to New York City.

The police officers arrested were identified as Monique Hill, 22, and Kimberly Peoples, 30, recent graduates of the Baltimore police academy who had not completed their probationary periods.

They were charged with conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and heroin. Both resigned their commissions and were being held at the Women's Detention Center.

Harris, who is serving five years' probation after a 1988 conviction on a handgun violation in New York, was arrested at his Woodlawn home in Baltimore County yesterday morning and charged under Maryland's kingpin statute with running a ring that pumped about $2 million worth of drugs into the Baltimore area every month.

At the time of his arrest about 6:30 a.m. yesterday, Harris' 11-month-old daughter was asleep in his apartment, police said. They had no information on the girl's mother and turned the child over to the state Department of Social Services.

Federal agents said they believe Ms. Hill is the girlfriend of KennethWashington, identified as a lieutenant in the organization. Mr. Washington, 30, of the 900 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore, was among those arrested yesterday. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs.

Ms. Hill, who joined the city force in August 1989 and was assigned to the Southeast District station, was arrested at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday at the department's Internal Affairs office. She resigned yesterday morning.

Ms. Peoples, who joined the city force in May 1990, was arrested at8:10 a.m. yesterday at the Northeast District station, where she worked, said police spokesman Dennis S. Hill. She resigned in the afternoon.

Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods said that he felt badly that police officers were charged in connection with the drug investigation but that he was glad that they were "plucked from our ranks."

"They are automatically suspended from the department and go through the same procedures as any other arrestee," he said.

The state kingpin statute carries stiffer penalties for those believed to be the organizers or managers of drug rings that distribute or transport quantities of crack larger than 50 grams and more than 28 grams of heroin. If convicted, Harris faces a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 40 years in prison with no chance for parole and a fine of up to $1 million.

Drug Enforcement Administration officials said they bought drugs from the alleged organization and charged that it injected about 5 kilograms of heroin and 10 kilograms of crack cocaine into the Baltimore market each month. The heroin that was allegedly purchased by DEA agents was found to range in purity from 36 percent to 86 percent, vastly stronger than the usual street heroin that ranges in purity from 3 percent to 11 percent, said Special Agent Douglas N. Biales, DEA spokesman.

Ms. Peoples was the first of the suspects arrested, Mr. Biales said. The rest were picked up within 15 minutes of each other between 6:30 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. yesterday as federal, state and local authorities raided 16 sites in the city and Baltimore County with search warrants.

Agents served another warrant at Insurance Inc., in Investment Place in Towson, later in the morning, where they said money was being laundered. But they did not say whether they discovered evidence there.

Authorities said they have more suspects but are waiting for more information before seeking additional warrants.

About 15 weapons were recovered -- including several automatic weapons -- along with about $10,000 in cash, Mr. Biales said.

"This is a very violent organization," Mr. Woods added at a news conference downtown at the 5th Regiment Armory on Howard Street holding up an Uzi automatic assault weapon that was seized.

Police confiscated small amounts of marijuana, crack cocaine and heroin during the arrests. Mr. Biales said the organization only held the amount needed to avoid a "stockpile." "They used what they needed and then went back to get more," he said.

The investigation is continuing, and authorities would not comment on the action being taken in New York. The probe began after authorities learned that New York drug dealers were trying to strong arm their way into the Baltimore area drug trade.

Harris was the target of the investigation and labeled as a large-scale drug trafficker, said John F. Purcell, assistant U.S. attorney.

Also arrested yesterday in the city were Karen Connor, 29, of the 4000 block of Rokeby Road; Moses Norfleet and Clifford Storey, 21, both of the 500 block of Half Mile Court; James Washington, 48, of the first block of Cahill Court; and Pamela Washington of the 700 block of South Charles Street.

Also arrested were Troy Snead, 20, of the 3400 block of Virginia Avenue; Tracey L. Washington, 28, of the 5800 block of Narcissus Avenue; Robert Scott, 24, of the 500 block of North Brice Street; Brian Washington, 24, of the 2300 block of Annapolis Road; and Mary Wiggins of Valdivia Court in Baltimore County.

All were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs.

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