Residents applaud as police make drug arrests at high-rise

April 19, 1994|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,Sun Staff Writer

Residents of a west Columbia high-rise apartment building applauded as Howard County police officers confiscated more than $4,000 in cocaine and arrested four men on drug charges during a raid Friday night.

Tenants said they were happy that their complaints of open drug distribution have finally been heard.

"We were very satisfied they got it out of here," said Carol Scott, a 15-year resident of Abbott House. "It makes the whole building look bad."

At 11:30 p.m. Friday, officers from the Street Drug Section and the Tactical Section served two search and seizure warrants at the Abbott House, a nine-story building in the 5400 block of Cedar Lane in Harpers Choice.

Police confiscated 52 wrapped rocks of crack cocaine and a half-ounce of powder cocaine hidden in a second-floor laundry room by one suspect who fled when police arrived. Five rocks of crack and drug paraphernalia were taken from two apartments.

The four men who were arrested were charged with possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.

Gregory Pernel Williams, 24, of the 600 block of Cantor Ave. in Baltimore, also was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, police said. He was being held on $75,000 bond at the Howard County Detention Center after a bond hearing in Howard District Court yesterday.

Robert Lee Mitchell, 19, of the 13200 block of Triadelphia Mill Road in Clarksville, and James Edward Moore, 38, of the 5400 block of Cedar Lane, were released on unsecured bonds early Saturday morning.

Mark Elbert Thomas, 35, who also lives at the Cedar Lane address, was released on personal recognizance Saturday.

Police said they based their investigation on surveillance at the high-rise and on undercover buys made in an apartment on the sixth floor.

There, lines of people were known to crowd the hallway to buy drugs, police said.

Police said residents had complained about addicts who sometimes knocked on the doors of other apartments, searching for drugs.

Tanya Moore, a 10-year resident, said the building is a family-oriented place, where drugs are not wanted.

"A lot of people move out here in Columbia to keep their children from drugs and infestation," Ms. Moore said. "But it's everywhere. You can't run from it."

The applause and cheers from the handful of residents were welcomed by the arresting officer, said Cpl. Merritt Bender, of the Street Drug Unit. "It felt real good," said "We were real happy they were pleased."

Corporal Bender said some of the residents even asked for the phone number of the squad so they could be contacted if needed again in the future.

"I wouldn't say the building is a big drug location," said Lt. Jeffrey Spaulding, head of the police department's Vice and Narcotics Division. "We try to get in there and do everything with it as quickly as we can."

Residents said much of the activity in the partially subsidized building began in early December.

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