18 arrested in alleged cocaine ring Police say group preyed on residents of public housing

Block captains 'elated'

Accused ringleader, two others officials of Black Annapolitans

March 04, 1998|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Federal and local law enforcement officers arrested 18 people yesterday, breaking up an alleged drug ring that they said preyed on Annapolis public housing communities for more than 25 years.

Leaders of the group arrested long had been active in Friends of Black Annapolitans, a political group known for being frequent critics of the Annapolis Police Department.

The alleged ringleader, Curtis Allen Spencer, 48, founder of the political group, and his two top Black Annapolitan officials are among five men arrested on federal charges of crack cocaine distribution. Thirteen others were arrested on similar state charges.

"He's had a stranglehold on this community for as long as anyone can remember," said Chief Joseph S. Johnson, of the Police Department. "It took us eight months of intense work to find the structure of this group and enough information to identify Spencer at the top of the pyramid. We're all stunned at how sophisticated this guy was. He was slick."

Police say residents of the communities have lived in fear of Spencer and his lieutenants.

"Six or eight community block captains called me today to say they were elated to hear these guys were caught," Johnson said. "It was a difficult case."

Yesterday, police served state search warrants at 12 locations, including RPM Automotive in Parole Plaza, the Newtowne and Harbour House public housing communities and Spa Cove apartments. They also seized eight vehicles, three handguns, 6 ounces of crack cocaine and 1 ounce of marijuana.

In addition to Spencer, the four others arrested on federal charges yesterday are:

John David Lane, 41, Black Annapolitan treasurer, who listed the same address as Spencer in the 1100 block of Primrose Court in Annapolis.

Theodore Lee Brown, 44, Black Annapolitan president, of the 900 block of Windsor Ave. in Annapolis.

Harold Lovell Johnson, 33, of the 1100 block of Madison St. in Annapolis.

Kevin Ronald Adams, no age available, of the 500 block of Valleywood Drive in Millersville, who is in custody in the county Detention Center on unrelated charges.

The five men charged with federal crimes could serve from 10 years to life if convicted.

An additional 13 people were arrested earlier in the investigation, which began nearly a year ago. During those arrests, police reported seizing approximately 109 grams of cocaine, 680 grams of marijuana, three other vehicles, three guns and more than $1,400, according to Annapolis police and agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Mobile Enforcement Team.

City police said the investigation began when detectives started receiving more tips about the group, which was well known to the department. Detectives began aggressively identifying sellers and lieutenants. Then, last fall, when they felt they had enough information, police asked DEA officials in Baltimore for help.

"We could arrest the underlings, but we could never get to Spencer," said Capt. Zora Lykken, city police spokeswoman and former head of the investigative unit. "It's also a very small community, which made it extremely difficult to conduct any kind of covert investigation. Based on that and this being such a cancerous type of organization, we asked the DEA to assist us."

On Jan. 9, according to a federal affidavit, agents used an unidentified informant to contact Spencer by pager about buying cocaine. Within 15 minutes, Spencer instructed the informant to go to a local shopping center for the agreed-upon $400 drug transaction, police said.

Records for Spencer's home telephone showed three phone calls to the pay phone used by the agents at Loews Annapolis Hotel, the affidavit said.

At Hillsmere Shopping Center, according to the affidavit, a DEA special agent and the informant met with Lane, who was seen earlier talking to Spencer at a High's Dairy Store. Lane then walked up to the agent and the informant and gave them 4.5 grams of crack in exchange for $400, the affidavit said. Spencer and Lane then left the area together, the affidavit said.

Four similar transactions took place on Jan. 15, Jan. 27 and Feb. 12 at locations across the city, including a 7-Eleven store, Spa Cove Apartments and a Popeye's restaurant. In one deal, at the Eastport Clipper Cantina, Lane and Brown gave agents 51 grams of crack in exchange for $2,200, the affidavit said, and the two men, who showed up with Spencer, then left with him.

Those transactions helped lead officers to the 13 arrested on state charges yesterday, police said. Police said they did not have a complete list of those arrested on state charges of crack cocaine distribution. Those who were identified are:

Ianquryagan Hunter, 25, Christopher Wills, 36, Keith Terrell Cornish, 21, Burton Miller, 23, Marvin Johnson, 31, and Russell Moore, 31. Police said they also have issued warrants for Carroll Moulden and Stephanie Ewell.

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