2 major drug rings broken, police say

33 indicted in probe of East Baltimore groups

narcotics, guns seized

May 29, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber and Gail Gibson | Del Quentin Wilber and Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police announced yesterday the breakup of two major East Baltimore drug rings, one of which peddled 1,000 gel caps of heroin daily, and the indictment of 33 people, including one charged with being a drug kingpin.

Detectives seized more than seven pounds of cocaine, 200 grams of heroin and nine handguns during a nine-month investigation that relied heavily on wiretaps, police officials said.

James Webb, 29, of the 1700 block of Harbinger Trail in Harford County was charged under the state's drug kingpin law and was being held last night without bail. Many of those charged have been ordered held on bail of at least $1 million.

By last night, police had arrested six of the 33 suspects.

The investigation began last summer, when police began looking at two organizations that had operated with near impunity for several years, police said.

"They were well entrenched," said Lt. Fred Bealefeld.

Police say that one ring was run by Richard Horton, 30, of the 1800 block of Bolton Street. That ring pumped more than 1,000 heroin caps daily into some of East Baltimore's most violent neighborhoods, police said.

The other ring, which Webb is accused of leading, mostly sold cocaine on "the wholesale level," Bealefeld said.

The two rings had separate structures, though Horton and Webb together ran Big Dogs carryout restaurant at 3001 E. Baltimore St., which police say was the site of much drug business, police said.

At a news conference yesterday, police showed charts of the drug-distribution network, which resembled a spider web of connections.

In January, detectives obtained wiretaps on Horton's and Web's Nextel cellular phones.

In late February, police overheard a man talking to a New York-area supplier about meeting in Towson, police said.

Undercover detectives watched the meeting outside the Sheraton Hotel on Feb. 20 then followed the men believed to be the suppliers to the Red Roof Inn at 111 W. Timonium Road, police said.

There, detectives got permission from one of the suspects to search a room and a white Dodge minivan, police said. In the van, police said, they discovered a hydraulically operated compartment that contained 3.5 kilograms of cocaine.

Arrested by police were: Miguel Dominguez, 23; Victor Rafael Pena, 33; and Ramon A. Rosario, 36. They were indicted in federal court last month on drug distribution charges.

After the arrests of Pena, Rosario and Dominguez, police continued their investigation into the Baltimore rings, monitoring cellular phone calls.

Police said those talking on the cellular telephones falsely believed that calls made on Nextels, which allow users to make point-to-point calls, could not be intercepted by police.

As the investigation continued, police raided homes and made arrests. "They kept getting stung but couldn't figure it out," Bealefeld said. "They just figured they were victims of bad luck."

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