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Police arrest at least 8 in narcotics raid

October 04, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Bystanders lined East Washington Street Thursday night as police escorted people from two apartment buildings during a narcotics raid.

Armed with search warrants, authorities entered three apartments at 29-31 E. Washington St. and one apartment at 25-27 E. Washington St.

At 10 p.m., Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said eight people in those apartments - four men and four women - had been arrested so far.

Police also used a warrant to search 41 East Ave., a few blocks away, where one man and one woman were arrested.

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Smith said a search warrant was executed at another downtown location. Police would not identify the place or say whether anyone was arrested there.

The identities of those arrested and their charges were not available Thursday night. Smith said some would be charged with distributing drugs and some with possessing drugs.

The Hagerstown Police Department, the Washington County Narcotics Task Force and the Washington County State's Attorney's Office worked together on the raids, which were conducted as part of a narcotics nuisance abatement program.

Brett Wilson, an assistant Washington County state's attorney assigned to narcotics nuisance abatement, said the crackdown "targets landlords who fail to maintain their buildings (and fail) to keep drug dealers out."

The 29-31 E. Washington St. building in particular is "one of the most offensive drug dealing buildings in Hagerstown," Wilson alleged.

Dozens of bystanders stood in groups in East Washington Street doorways and sat on stoops as police searched the two apartment buildings and rounded up suspects. A few adults had children with them, including a man and a woman across the street who tended to a diapered baby in a stroller.

At 9:40 p.m., three people were led out of 29-31 E. Washington St. in handcuffs and into a police van. Two other people were taken out about 10 minutes later.

Smith said at 10 p.m. that police were still trying to inventory the drugs that were inside, so he couldn't say exactly what was found.

Police and Wilson estimated there are more than a dozen apartments inside 29-31 E. Washington St. Residents who were not part of the raid were not allowed back in the building if they left.

Smith called the building "a thorn in our side" and said police have been there many times before.

In March 2000, authorities arrested six people on drug charges and reported finding drugs, guns and cash inside one apartment there.

Priscilla Louise McDonald, who police said was a "host" to drug dealers, pleaded guilty to maintaining a common nuisance and was sentenced to five years in prison.

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