Drug dealer testifies of race to kill Duel over turf created climate to eliminate competition, he says

'Had to fix the problem'

Alleged gang members on trial in city deaths of more than a dozen

October 22, 1997|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Describing a duel of drug kingpins that created a climate of "kill-or-be-killed," a notorious East Baltimore heroin dealer testified yesterday that he was in a race against time to assassinate the rival allegedly intent on killing him.

"He was out to assassinate all of us," a gravely voiced Elway Williams said of Anthony Jones, whose suspected drug organization is the focus of a federal murder, racketeering and narcotics trial in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The hearings have offered a rare firsthand account of life inside Baltimore's drug-ridden killing zones.

"We had to fix the problem. And the problem was Anthony Jones," said Williams, serving a 24- to 30-year federal sentence for running a violent, $15,000-a-day heroin ring that prosecutors say competed against Jones. "We had to continue to search to assassinate him. It was either they kill us or we kill them."

Williams, 30, is a key witness in the two-month trial of nine of Jones' suspected drug lieutenants, portrayed by prosecutors as a vicious group that obeyed orders to kill without question. The gang is suspected of killing more than a dozen people and selling millions of dollars worth of cocaine and heroin in the past eight years, prosecutors said.

Wearing a light gray sweat suit and sneakers, Williams' bony physique looked strangely out of character for a man who federal agents say developed a long reputation as one of Baltimore's most powerful and feared drug lords.

"We had to have guns to protect what we were out there selling," he answered a prosecutor's question matter-of-factly. "I used dope fiends and some young guys to help me sell it on the street."

But Williams said no show of strength -- he frequently had armed bodyguards protecting him -- seemed to be able to ward off Jones' attempts to assassinate him.

Bodyguard killed

Jones' alleged gunmen caught up with Williams on Feb. 26, 1996, when they opened fire on him and his bodyguard from the back seat of a car on a dark portion of Wilcox and Biddle streets in East Baltimore. The bodyguard, Derrick Rivers, was fatally shot in the back of the head.

Williams had been sitting in the front seat of the car next to Rivers when at least one of three men in the back seat are alleged to have opened fire. He said those three men were Alan "Walli" Chapman, Warren "Red Dog" Hill and Mark "Keedy" Coles, who he said turned against him in favor of Jones.

"I could smell the gunfire," he said of the shots, recalling how he jumped out of the car wounded and ran into the cold night down the dimly lighted street.

"I heard footsteps behind me and six, seven, eight gunshots. I was hit two or three times in the chest and back."

Williams recovers

Williams ran to a home on nearby Valley Street, knocked on the door and collapsed after a woman let him inside. He spent nearly three weeks recuperating at a medical clinic, where Jones is alleged to have made the next attempt to get him.

Prosecutors Jamie M. Bennett and Robert R. Harding alleged that Jones, increasingly obsessed with killing his rival, plotted with a Baltimore police officer, Erick McCrary, to kidnap Williams from his hospital bed. McCrary, whom Jones offered $10,000 for the kidnapping, has pleaded guilty and will testify for prosecutors at the trial.

Court papers filed in support of the charges against the 18 defendants -- eight have pleaded guilty, nine are on trial and Jones will be tried in January -- describe a murderous web between the warring drug organizations.

The attack on Williams, for instance, is believed by authorities to have been prompted by the Oct. 5, 1995, slaying of Jones' right-hand man, DeShane Carter. One of Williams' cousins, Raymund Harrison, admitted to the killing and said it was done to avenge the slaying that year of Anthony Green, a close friend of Williams' who ran a drug stash house.

Harrison said during his guilty plea that Carter was thought by Williams' enforcers to have been the trigger man in the Green killing.

Hurt by death of 'associate'

Williams testified yesterday that he was hurt by the killing of Green, whom he described as "a business associate" in his organization.

Describing himself as a 12th-grade dropout from Lake Clifton High School who started selling cocaine in East Baltimore when he was 16, Williams said little else about his years growing up. He also said little about where he got the dozens of kilograms of cocaine and heroin he sold every year.

"It came from some Jamaicans. Some Nigerians. And a buddy of mine named Black," Williams said. "I don't know his last name."

Pub Date: 10/22/97

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