Police say area drug operation uncovered

3 arrested, cocaine, cash seized in raids

March 14, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A monthlong narcotics investigation stretching from Washington to Anne Arundel County has resulted in three arrests and seizure of more than $531,000 in cash and 40 kilograms of cocaine in a regional drug operation, authorities say.

Authorities say the cash seizure is the largest from a drug case in the Washington metropolitan area.

Police from Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Montgomery counties are working with Drug Enforcement Administration authorities to investigate links between the three suspects -- two brothers and another man -- and their suppliers.

The cocaine seized by police had a street value of more than $8 million, authorities said.

Prince George's County police Chief John S. Farrell said yesterday that he suspected most of the powder-form cocaine was to be converted into crack.

Farrell said the drugs were packaged similarly to those coming across the Mexican border. Police would try to locate the source of the drugs, probably in California or Mexico, he said.

At a news conference yesterday at Prince George's police headquarters, assault rifles, handguns, ammunition clips, bricks of packaged cocaine, and bags filled with $50 and $100 bills that were seized in five raids over the weekend were displayed.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of the 5th District and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens hailed a drug-fighting initiative that allows police in the metropolitan region to cross jurisdictional borders and decried the impact of the drug trade on the region.

"I'm not pleased to be here," Hoyer said. "What we see here is the combinations of drugs, dollars and death too present in our community, too present in our country."

Owens echoed the congressman's remarks.

"This is just death all around us," she said. "It's going to take more of this kind of cooperation to get drugs out of our community."

According to court records, three of the five raids that began Thursday were in Prince George's County, one in Anne Arundel County and one in Montgomery County.

Anne Arundel police said they seized 30 pounds of cocaine and $21,000 in cash when they raided a house in the 1800 block of Eagle Court in Severn on Thursday and arrested James Tillman, 25, of that address, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

Tillman's brother Jamerson Tillman, 23, of the 9300 block of Edmonston Road in Greenbelt, Prince George's County, was also arrested Thursday. Police found 20 kilograms of cocaine, a 9-mm handgun and about $400,000 in cash at his home, the affidavit said.

The third man arrested was Lyle Kent Wade, 37, of the 4700 block of 67th Ave. in Landover Hills, Prince George's County.

Two other raids were conducted during the weekend, but police would not disclose where.

All three suspects were charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. They were arraigned in Greenbelt yesterday.

Police said they were surprised that such an active ring thrived without their knowledge.

"We were not aware of the people we have in custody," Farrell said. "These people were right at the top of the distribution chain. This is the wholesale level."

Local police got information on the drug trade during a prostitution sting conducted under the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a program developed with federal funds that encourages investigations across jurisdictional lines in the Baltimore-Washington area.

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