Authorities seize bar, 2 homes during drug investigation Fells Point bar owner under suspicion

February 19, 1993|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer

Federal agents seized a Fells Point bar and two homes in the lTC Baltimore area worth approximately $500,000 as part of a continuing investigation of a cocaine ring whose members allegedly distributed the drug in the Baltimore metropolitan region for more than a decade.

Helen's Hollywood Bar, 714 S. Broadway, was confiscated yesterday by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshal's Service. Large quantities of cocaine were sold in the bar, according to federal authorities.

Agents were met by a lone barmaid when they entered the bar located across the street from the Broadway Market.

"This is just unbelieveable," the barmaid, who asked not to be identified, said as the place was searched by windbreaker-clad agents.

Scott A. Sewell, U.S. marshal for Maryland, said the locks to Helen's were changed and the establishment's liquor license was revoked.

Helen Marie Dupreez, 46, is the bar's owner, federal officials said. Her residence in the 5100 block of Hazelwood Ave. in Rosedale was seized in addition to another property she owns in the 2900 block of Elliott St. in Canton.

"Helen's Bar was used to facilitate the sale of cocaine," said a DEA source.

The source said ounces of cocaine were sometimes sold at the bar or on the second floor of the property. On other occasions, according to the source, purchases were made after a buyer got the key, kept at the bar, to a nearby stash house.

"An informer said Helen would keep the bar open just for her cocaine customers . . . the bar was open sometimes for up to six hours without a drink being sold," the source said.

The barmaid said Ms. Dupreez owned and operated the bar for 18 years.

"Helen was very upset about this [the seizure]," the barmaid said. "She's a great person with four grown children and grandchildren."

A DEA source said the three seized buildings will be contracted out to a real estate firm to sell. Money from the resale of the properties will go to the federal government which will redistribute equal portions to the DEA, Maryland State Police and Baltimore City Police Department.

Even if Ms. Dupreez is acquitted of all criminal charges, her property will not automatically be returned to her because the burden of proof in property seizures differs from criminal cases against defendants.

"The preponderance of evidence must be 51 percent against property that law enforcement agencies want to seize," the DEA source said. "When filing criminal charges against a person, a defendant, the rule of law states the evidence must be beyond a reasonable doubt."

If she is found innocent, Ms. Dupreez, like others, can contest the property seizure in a federal hearing but only after posting 10 percent of the total worth of the property.

The three warrants authorizing yesterday's property seizures were signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul M. Rosenberg.

An undercover investigation of Ms. Dupreez and her associates had been conducted over the last three years by city, state police and the DEA.

About a year ago, federal narcotics agents began a separate, more focused investigation of activity at Helen's bar and made several purchases of cocaine, federal authorities said.

In October, Ms. Dupreez and Mamie Marie Newhouse, 22, of the 1000 block of Sumter Ave. in Rosedale, were arrested by the DEA and charged with operating a large-scale cocaine operation.

In raids associated with those arrests, agents seized about 8 pounds of cocaine that tested to be 94 percent pure, the DEA source said.

That cocaine was seized at a stash house in the 1800 block of Fleet St. and from one of Ms. Dupreez's underlings who was arrested while making an illegal delivery of the drug at a movie theater in Golden Ring Mall.

Wrappers with traces of what later turned out to be high-grade cocaine were found in the stash house, the DEA source said.

Also confiscated at Helen's Bar and two other locations in October were $25,000 in cash and jewelry worth $60,000. Some of the money seized had been used by agents in undercover purchases of the drug, the DEA source said.

DEA special agents Edward Marcinko and Robert Hladun alleged that the bar and the two houses were used to traffic cocaine, according to warrants used in yesterday's property seizures.

The investigation is continuing, the DEA source said, and the investigators are now focusing on the out-of-state source of the cocaine.

Ms. Dupreez is expected to be tried in state court under the drug kingpin statute which calls for a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years upon conviction, the federal source said.

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