Officer guarded cocaine for ring, U.S. agents say

Documents on charges refer to work for major distributor in city

January 22, 2000|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police officer guarded pounds of cocaine for a large city drug organization, which had been importing its supply into Maryland via a Cuban drug lord in Miami, according to federal agents.

James Scott Fullwood, a Southeastern District officer who was arrested Wednesday, was paid $500 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine that he guarded for the William E. "Uncle Bill" Bickford Jr. organization, a federal affidavit said. Bickford and his underlings are suspected of distributing 10 to 20 pounds of cocaine a week in and around Baltimore, authorities said.

"Fullwood's role was primarily to maintain custody of the drugs," according to the affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Court papers identify the supplier of the Bickford ring as Hector Cabezas, a 51-year-old former warehouse worker in Miami who pleaded guilty last year to federal drug-distribution charges. Prosecutors say Bickford, who also pleaded guilty to drug-distribution charges in Baltimore last year, distributed cocaine worth more than $6 million in Baltimore.

Fullwood, 34, a 13-year police veteran, couldn't be reached last night. He was arrested at a roller-skating rink in the 8000 block of Bel Air Road, where he had gone to pick up a kilogram of cocaine from one of Bickford's former associates, the affidavit said.

The associate was an informant cooperating with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in a sting operation. In meetings with Fullwood, he had worn a device that recorded the officer agreeing to participate in drug business, the affidavit said.

In one of those conversations, on Jan. 14, the informant assured Fullwood that he "had nothing to worry about from the police" because Full wood's name had not been discovered during the Bickford investigation last year, the affidavit said. The informant went on to ask Fullwood whether he would be interested in buying cocaine, prompting Fullwood to reply, "I'm in," the affidavit said.

Five days later, the informant called Fullwood and told him to meet him across the street from the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop on Bel Air Road. Fullwood met him, accepted a bag with cocaine and was arrested, agents said.

Police spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr. said the officer has been suspended and faces a hearing next week to determine whether the department will stop paying his $40,000-a-year salary.

"The department could not be more serious about officer conduct and discipline," Weinhold said. "If the department is made aware of an officer who has broken the law, it will be investigated and investigated swiftly. It simply won't be tolerated."

Bickford and Cabezas are awaiting sentencing in federal court in Baltimore. As part of the criminal case against Bickford, federal prosecutors have sought to seize several cars he owns and the liquor license of his Triple Bs tavern on Clinton Street.

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