City and federal narcotics agents say they have knocked out the "Eric and Eric" drug ring, which they allege sold $3 million worth of heroin a year and terrorized a section of East Baltimore for at least a year.
In raids that began about 5:45 p.m. yesterday, nearly 80 Eastern District police officers and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents hit five homes in the district and one in Baltimore County.
During the raids, authorities arrested at least three people, including the ring's alleged leaders and a teen-age male. Authorities also seized a black 1990 Nissan 300 ZX and a black Jeep Scrambler; 150 glassine bags of heroin; $14,700 in cash; a .380 automatic pistol, and a police scanner.
Authorities were searching today for other suspects and for a black truck that had a sensor alarm with "Big Eric's" voice saying:
"This adds icing to the cake that we've been baking for the last year," police Maj. Alvin A. Winkler, commander of the Eastern District, said last night. "For a long time, people have been calling complaining about 'Eric and Eric.' Thank God, we have them in custody."
Arrested were the ring's alleged leaders, Eric Lamont "Big Eric" Johnson, 26, of the 900 block of Belnord Ave. in the city, and Eric Labrent "Little Eric" Coley, 24, of the first block of Emelia Woods Court in eastern Baltimore County, police said.
Police also arrested a 17-year-old male who was remanded to the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School.
All three were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, possession of heroin and possession with intent to distribute, police said.
Johnson and Coley were being held in lieu of $150,000 bail each at the Eastern District lock-up, pending a bail review hearing today in District Court, police said.
Police said the raids culminated a year's investigation that involved following up tips from citizens and arrests of other drug dealers. In connection with the probe, a city grand jury on Monday indicted nine people.
Police said the $10,000-a-day "Eric and Eric" ring operated in the Madison Street-Edison Highway corridor. The ring's street dealers would stand on corners selling heroin, police said.
The raided houses are in the 900 block of N. Belnord Ave., the 2600 block of Ashland Ave., and the 800 block of N. Lakewood Ave., all in the city; and the first block of Emelia Woods Court in the county.
The jeep that was seized has "Eric and Eric" written on the side and on a rear tire cover that also bears the picture of cartoon character Bart Simpson. It was a form of advertisement for the ring, police said.
"These guys had this neighborhood in terror," said Sgt. Edward Bochniak, of Eastern District Drug Enforcement Unit. "People down there are afraid of these guys."
The dealers didn't have to use violence because they kept people in fear of what might happen, Bochniak said.
The dealers were arrogant, police indicated. "They had a million-dollar party one time after they made their first million," Bochniak said. "On the streets, they told uniformed officers, 'We're untouchable.'"