Boot camp graduate returns to Aberdeen, is arrested again on drug charges

April 17, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

A convicted cocaine dealer returned to Aberdeen from the state prison boot camp program to deal in kilogram quantities of drugs from New York and Philadelphia before he was arrested again by members of the Harford County Joint Narcotics Task officers, authorities say.

Juan Valepino "Mookie" Howard, 23, completed the boot camp program in December and allegedly had broadened his drug business by the time task force officers raided his apartment Wednesday and arrested him on new charges.

"We have evidence that Mookie has been getting huge quantities of drugs from Philadelphia and New York, and had even made contact with previous sources in Detroit," said Sgt. Steve Smith, an investigator in the Harford County Joint Narcotics Task Force.

Task force members heard rumors that Mr. Howard was back in the drug business within days after he got out of the Herman L. Toulson boot camp in Jessup four months ago, Sergeant Smith said.

"We had an undercover [officer] into [Mr. Howard's alleged drug organization] within a week or so and discovered how quickly he had built up his business again," Sergeant Smith said.

Mr. Howard is being held on $250,000 bail. Circuit Judge William O. Carr declined to lower the bail at a hearing Friday, saying Mr. Howard was a risk to flee the area if freed. The judge declined to order him held without bail, as prosecutors had requested.

Assistant State's Attorney Gerard S. Comen told Judge Carr that task force officers had connected Mr. Howard to heroin dealers in Baltimore over the past four months and that Mr. Howard had been selling large quantities of cocaine in Harford County and Baltimore.

According to undercover investigators, their informants and court records dating back to 1992, Mr. Howard moved to the Aberdeen area in 1991 to improve a cocaine and marijuana operation he had started in Detroit.

He bragged that it was easier to deal drugs in Harford County, where he called police officers "hillbillies," they said.

The task force learned of Mr. Howard's operation in 1992.

He kept on the move then, living with various girlfriends, but investigators eventually linked him to a location in the 100 block of E. Dean St., where they believed he was buying and selling drugs.

A police raid there led to his arrest and indictment in October 1992 on 28 cocaine-related charges, including a drug kingpin count.

Mr. Howard pleaded guilty to cocaine distribution and Judge Carr sentenced him to 15 years in prison, with 10 years suspended, on May 18, 1993.

The judge also placed Mr. Howard on two years of supervised probation and ordered him never to live or work in Harford County again.

Mr. Howard was accepted in the Division of Correction's six-month boot camp program in June. On Dec. 2, Judge Carr rescinded his order barring Mr. Howard from living and working in Harford after the court was told that he was about to complete the boot camp, court records show.

Mr. Howard completed boot camp and began his probation Dec. 16, 1993, after serving seven months in prison.

Wednesday, about 50 task force members conducted simultaneous raids at three sites in Aberdeen between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m..

Mr. Howard was arrested in the first block of E. Bel Air Ave. and was charged with cocaine possession, cocaine distribution and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Armed with search and seizure warrants, the task force seized 1.25 ounces of crack cocaine valued at an estimated $3,000, a quarter-ounce of marijuana worth an estimated $60, a 1986 Dodge Shadow, drug paraphernalia and $1,500 in cash.

No one was injured during the raids, which Deputy 1st Class DeWayne Curry described as "quick and noisy."

A dozen task force members raided each location, using battering rams to gain entry.

"When you wake someone up from a dead sleep, they usually start yelling for a few seconds until they realize what is happening," Deputy Curry said. "Then it becomes suddenly quiet and the search begins."

Besides Mr. Howard, the task force also arrested Michael Anderson, 20, of the 200 block of Mayberry Drive in an apartment in the same block as Mr. Howard's. Mr. Anderson was charged with cocaine possession, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and cocaine distribution. He was held on $250,000 bail.

Task force officers arrested Gabriela Lynne Medley, 35, in a raid in the first block of Chesapeake Court. She was held on $50,000 bail on charges of cocaine possession, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, cocaine distribution and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and maintaining a common nuisance.

A fourth raid, conducted before 6 a.m. Wednesday, led to the arrest of Charles Lewis Willis, 24, of the 400 block of Elmhurst St. He was released on $15,000 bond after being charged with cocaine possession and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

A fifth raid, conducted at the same time in the first block of Newton Lane, produced no arrests, Deputy Curry said.

Investigators said Mr. Anderson is suspected of being a lieutenant in Mr. Howard's drug operation. He was convicted of drug possession linked to Mr. Howard's organization in 1992 and served six months in the state's boot camp in Jessup. He was released on probation in January.

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