Pulaski Highway crackdown nets several arrests

November 04, 1996|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

A monthlong crackdown on drug and gun trafficking along Pulaski Highway, aimed at deterring criminal activity coming into Baltimore County, led to more than a dozen arrests, police said last week.

Operation "Snag-It" (short for "Stop Narcotics and Guns Interdiction Team") also caught motorists wanted in auto thefts and on outstanding warrants, and arrested 45 drivers charged with driving while under the influence.

"Operation Snag-It was a success," Lt. Kate Meeks said. "We were able to take these people off the streets, and we also made an impact on drunk driving."

Police officers stopped 600 vehicles last month along the 6-mile strip that winds through eastern Baltimore County.

On Oct. 21, five people were arrested after police stopped a driver for speeding on U.S. 40 and Chesaco Avenue -- and seized crack cocaine after further investigation.

Other motorists were arrested on suspicion of handgun violations, auto theft and disorderly conduct, and on outstanding warrants.

"I think any kind of concentrated effort on a particular area will eliminate this sort of thing in the short term," says County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina.

But he added that "in the long run, it's hard to stop all of the drug running and prostitution on a major road because sellers tend to go where they know buyers will be."

Pulaski Highway, which runs through Baltimore County from the city's edge to Harford County, has been a much-traveled commercial route since it's pre-World War II beginning. For decades, motels and truck stops along the strip have been the site of prostitution and drug dealing.

Community leaders in areas such as Rosedale have long demanded that police crack down on illegal activities along U.S. 40. The County Council several years ago passed a "padlock law," which shut down many of the area's seediest establishments.

Maryland state police have imposed checkpoints along Interstate 95 similar to Operation "Snag-It," leading would-be drug traffickers, prostitutes and gun runners to cruise U.S. 40. Even so, narcotic distribution and criminal activity has continued to be a problem along the highway.

Last month, Pulaski Highway also was the site of a far-reaching truck inspection by county police, implemented to remove unsafe vehicles from the roads.

In that crackdown, 59 trucks were taken out of operation and drivers were fined more than $1,000.

Pub Date: 11/04/96

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