Boy, 12, seduced by drug money He's caught holding heroin and a gun BALTIMORE CITY

June 30, 1993|By Michael James and Roger Twigg | Michael James and Roger Twigg,Staff Writers

A 12-year-old East Baltimore boy was arrested yesterday after a city police officer caught him holding a gun and 58 small bags of heroin for a New York drug dealer, who had hired the boy for $15 a day.

The boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, is charged as a juvenile with intent to distribute heroin, possession of heroin and possession of a deadly weapon -- namely, a .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol, police said.

It's not the first time a Baltimore youth has been solicited into the drug trade.

Police say drug dealers -- worried about being caught with their stashes -- have been increasingly using children to hold their drugs and weaponry.

"I wasn't selling the drugs, I was just holding 'em," said the boy, who police said burst into tears when he was told he was under arrest. "I was doing it so I could make some money to play the video game" in a neighborhood grocery store.

The youth, who along with his mother spoke to a reporter yesterday after he was released to the custody of his parents, had the bags of heroin stuffed in his shorts, police said. The bags have an estimated street value of $10 each.

Officer John L. Hailey Jr. had noticed the boy sitting on a set of steps in the 1500 block of N. Port St., where he was playing with the handgun.

When the officer approached to investigate, the 12-year-old slid the pistol with its 15 rounds of ammunition behind a trash can, police said.

Officer Hailey ran at the boy and grabbed him before he could flee. The officer searched him, found the drugs and told him he was under arrest.

"He started crying right off the bat," Officer Hailey said.

The youth is a sixth-grader who lives with his mother and father in a rowhouse near a Federal Street grocery store, where neighborhood youths often gather to play the video game.

The boy said he was approached about three days ago by a drug dealer known to many of the children. He said the dealer offered him $15 a day to hold his stash and the weapon.

"I said OK. I just wanted the money for the game," the boy said.

His 38-year-old mother, whose son hugged her often while she spoke about his arrest, asked him, "What did you learn from this?"

4 The boy replied, "Don't ever hold nothing else."

Officer Hailey said he believes the youth was telling the truth because it is not uncommon for youngsters to hold drugs and weapons for narcotics traffickers, many of whom have come here from New York to carve out their own turf.

"A lot of the drug dealers are from New York," the officer said. "Just about every shooting involves turf battles between someone from New York."

He said that the drug traffickers pay the youngsters to hold onto their weapons and drugs to avoid arrest. Police said they are looking for the drug dealer who paid the boy.

The East Baltimore boy's arrest yesterday was his first.

His mother said she believes that he's "learned a lesson from all this" and she was going to try and keep him away from some of the "wild children" in the neighborhood.

"I love my son and I'm doing the best for him," his mother said. "But drugs are so far out of hand. What can you do? I'm thinking of just taking him away from here and moving somewhere else."

Part of the boy's problem, she said, is that he is always trying to get money for the video game.

"That's all he does is play that game. He'd rather take his money and be over there in the store than stay home," she said.

"He found out today that drugs are not the game to play," his mother said.

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