Md. State Police tops at crack crackdown

October 28, 1997


Staff Writer

Maryland State Police seized 65 pounds of crack cocaine on state highways last year - more than any other state, according to state and federal officials.

The Hagerstown barrack, concentrating mostly on Interstate 81, seized the third highest total in the state - 215.8 grams - a little less than half a pound. The barrack trailed the JFK Memorial Highway barrack, where troopers confiscated 42.9 pounds of crack and the Salisbury barrack, where troopers seized 20 pounds.

The El Paso Intelligence Center, an agency of the Drug Enforcement Administration, recognized the state earlier this month for its drug interdiction efforts on major highways. The seizures include only crack that was confiscated by state police and only seizures greater than a certain amount.


State officials hailed the report as evidence that state police are aggressively combatting drug dealers who often drive through the state.

"It is impressive," said Capt. Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman.

Some civil libertarians questioned whether the state has sacrificed rights for results.

"Efficiency in seizure of drugs or any other contraband is not necessarily (compatible) with the Constitution," said Susan Goering, executive director of the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU has charged that state police have stopped without cause a disproportionate number of black motorists.

"We happen to have data and statistics to show that they have been," Goering said.

Shipley, however, countered that the state police always have adhered to the Constitution.

"We believe the people of Maryland have given us a mandate for stopping the flow of drugs coming into our state and we will continue to do that," he said.

Shipley praised the skill and tenacity of state troopers who have detected drugs during routine traffic stops. He also acknowledged that Maryland has a number of busy thoroughfares that carry the drug trade up and down the East Coast.

"We are right in the middle of a pipeline... We have said this repeatedly about all of our interdiction efforts," he said.

Shipley said about 40 percent of the drugs intercepted nationally are seized by law enforcement officers on patrol.

In addition to the crack, state police in 1996 seized 220 pounds of powdered cocaine, 130 pounds of marijuana, four pounds of heroin and more than $1.6 million in money connected to the drug trade, according to police records.

During the stops, troopers recovered 41 guns, 25 knives and eight other deadly weapons, police said.

Shipley said the state is running a little below last year's rate.

"Who knows what the next two months will bring," he said.

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