City police arrest 47 in sting on drug seekers

November 06, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Police on Baltimore's east side continued their crackdown on the illicit drug trade yesterday with a multifaceted sting that included officers posing as dealers and members of a gun squad targeting weapons.

Though far broader than a similar operation last month -- in which 60 would-be drug buyers were arrested in four hours on one street -- police arrested fewer suspects in yesterday afternoon's districtwide sweep.

"We want to send a message that drug buyers and users are not welcome in East Baltimore," said Lt. Walter A. Taylor, adding that the number of robberies and shootings usually drops after such an operation.

Police officers in specialized squads fanned out across several East Baltimore neighborhoods, some pretending to be drug dealers while others tracked down dealers with a helicopter.

On Oct. 17, police conducted a sting in the 2300 block of E. Lafayette Ave. and arrested 60 would-be drug buyers. Police said some of those seeking to make purchases came from as far away as Harford County, and 44 came from Dundalk. Business nTC was so brisk that officers couldn't accommodate the traffic.

Yesterday, two undercover officers dressed in tennis shoes, blue jeans and black windbreakers set up shop at North Caroline and East Eager streets.

Prospective buyers approached them and asked for drugs, usually by saying, "Are you on?" or "Give me a dime."

The brand of crack cocaine that was in demand on the street yesterday was called "Pink Panther."

The undercover officers directed the buyers to the back of an abandoned rowhouse, where police waited. Five people were arrested there, and police at another location arrested 12 suspects. Thirty more were arrested on drug charges throughout the district.

All were charged with conspiracy to buy drugs.

"It's fun," said one of the undercover officers posing as a dealer. "I think it does a better job of clearing the street than when you go around and pick off the dealers."

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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