Police arrest nine, break up alleged drug-distribution ring

Baltimore detectives seek 11 other suspects

January 06, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Police arrested nine people yesterday and broke up a suspected drug organization that they said was responsible for selling cocaine and heroin in several communities in Southwest Baltimore.

Detectives with the Youth Violence Task Force were searching last night for 11 other suspects who were indicted by a state grand jury last week. Bail for the 11, the youngest of whom is 16, has been set at up to $1 million.

"They were all drug distributors in the area," said Lt. Jon Foster, a supervisor with the task force, which was set up last year to target offenders 24 and under. That age group accounts for the bulk of homicide victims and suspects in the city.

Forty officers fanned out about 6: 30 a.m. to serve the arrest warrants in an operation designated McHenry Street Crunch. They did not find the alleged leader of the unnamed group, a 31-year-old Baltimore man.

The targeted area covers several communities near the convergence of the Southern, Southwestern and Western police districts.

In the Southwestern District, the number of homicides jumped from 37 in 1997 to 52 last year. Police blame much of the violence on drugs.

Neighborhoods targeted in the raids are part of a state-designated "hot spot," a term used to describe areas with high crime rates that are eligible for grants for increased policing. The hot spot includes the Boyd Booth, Carrollton Ridge and Shipley Hill communities.

Connie Fowler, president of the Carrollton Ridge Community Association, said she notices positive results each time police conduct a raid. But often, she said, problems appear in neighboring developments.

"I think police are doing a good job," Fowler said yesterday. "Things have been a little better. They move the [drug dealers] from one place to another."

Foster said the group sold cocaine and heroin and contributed to much of the violence in that part of the city. In the compact Shipley Hill neighborhood there were five homicides last year, and police attributed most of them to drugs.

Police said yesterday that none of the suspects had been charged in any shootings or homicides. Detectives said they are trying to establish links between the suspects and gun violence, and might file additional charges soon.

Pub Date: 1/06/99

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