City police stumble on suspected heroin operation

April 09, 1995|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writer

A police officer helping a worried mother stumbled upon a drug operation being run out of a Baltimore apartment where workers packaged enough suspected heroin to satisfy thousands of addicts a day, police said yesterday.

The inadvertent break Friday night is enabling undercover detectives to gain their first foothold in a probe of several people they suspect of supplying heroin packaged in clear gel-caps in ++ two Southwest Baltimore communities -- Shipley Hill and Pratt-Monroe, police said.

At an apartment in the 300 block of Chapel Gate Lane, police said they found 2,000 doses of suspected heroin packaged for $10 street sales and 3 ounces of suspected raw heroin, which they believe to be at least 98 percent pure.

Such a find is rare, said Sgt. Fred Bealefeld, explaining that most drug raids net heroin that has been diluted. In one raid heralded as significant several months ago, police confiscated 5 ounces of heroin that tested only 8 percent pure, good for just a few hundred users.

Three ounces of uncut, pure heroin sells for $10,000, police said and translates into 4,000 doses after it is diluted, sometimes with a children's laxative. The investigators added that finding the suspected pure heroin indicates they came close to a high-level dealer.

"We've been chasing these guys for a while," Sergeant Bealefeld said. "We got a lucky break. Quite a few drug users out there . . . will be set back."

But police said Friday's take-down is still not enough to make an impact on the two areas. Southwestern District Sgt. Brian Hoffman said there is "a substantial problem" with heroin in both communities, much of it involving residents.

The sergeant said drug sales are evenly distributed between cocaine and heroin. He said police will have to arrest the dealers and hit several houses like the one hit Friday night to have an impact.

"There are still volumes of traffic down there," he said.

Events leading to the discovery began about 9 p.m. Friday, when police said Karen Bailey called her daughter's Chapel Gate Lane apartment. A man answered, said the woman did not live there and hung up.

A worried Ms. Bailey, whose daughter lives alone, called police. Officer Edward W. Woods used a spare key to get inside, but instead of finding the daughter, he said he saw a 14-year-old boy run down a hallway. In the bedroom, police said, was a glass table covered with scales, bags and two small piles of suspected heroin.

A short time later, Ms. Bailey's daughter came home and was arrested. Terressa Bailey, 24, was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin and other related drug offenses.

Inside the neatly kept apartment, police said they also found three handguns, one of them a .44-caliber Magnum with a scope, well as scales and thousands of gel capsules and small bags.

Sergeant Bealefeld said the 3 ounces of suspected pure heroin likely was smuggled into the United States from Southeast Asia. The substance was compressed into hardened, bullet-like chunks, indicating it hadn't been diluted. The chunks typically are broken up with coffee grinders, police said.

Sergeant Bealefeld said officers did not believe the younger Ms. Bailey was a major player in the drug operation. He said the younger Ms. Bailey -- who had never been arrested before and holds a steady job selling clothes -- is suspected of allowing her apartment to be used by the dealers for $300. He said police are still seeking the gang leaders.

The 14-year-old boy, who police said is suspected of packaging heroin and distributing it to stash houses, was charged as a juvenile with drug distribution. His status could not be determined yesterday.

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