A man who told investigators that he has been a Maryland cocaine dealer for 20 years was arrested Thursday under state drug kingpin statutes, after an undercover detective sold him 5 kilos of cocaine at theColumbia Hilton, police say.
Police say the man purchased the cocaine, which is estimated to be worth $1.2 million, from the detectiveafter Florida narcotics officers tipped off county police that a major drug supplier was operating in the Baltimore area.
Joseph Quentin Ross, 44, of the 13900 block of Manchester Road inUpper Marlboro, faces a mandatory 20- to 40-year prison sentence without possibility of parole if convicted, said Assistant State's Attorney Michael D. Rexroad.
Ross, who owns a real estate business in Prince George's County, is suspected of bringing cocaine into Marylandthrough a Fort Lauderdale contact, said Sgt. Joe Johnson, a Howard County narcotics detective.
Johnson said Ross is believed to have sold large amounts of cocaine -- typically between 3 kilos and 6 kilosper year -- in this area for much of the past two decades.
"He told us he's been doing this for 20 years and that he really needed themoney right now to supplement his income, because the economy's so bad," Johnson said.
According to court affidavits, a Fort Lauderdale police detective met Ross at the Columbia Hilton, where the two hadarranged to meet so that Ross could purchase several kilos of cocaine.
Ross arrived at the hotel with a travel bag containing $78,000 in cash, mostly in bundles of $100 bills, said Frank Miller, the undercover detective who met him.
"He gave me the money, I counted it,and then I gave him the coke," Miller said. "Then he said 'Thanks,' walked outside to his car, and got arrested."
Police seized the cash and the 1984 Mercedes Benz Ross was driving. Later in the evening,police executed a search warrant at Ross' home and business, where they recovered a handgun and personal property believed to be tied to drug trafficking.
Howard County Police Chief James N. Robey said the seized cash and automobile will be divided between the two jurisdictions who investigated the case. The money will be placed in the county's general fund.
Ross is being held without bond at the Howard County Detention Center.