DEA vehicle flips during dusk pursuit

November 07, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

HALFWAY - A pursuit within eyeshot of Valley Mall ended at dusk Thursday when a Drug Enforcement Administration vehicle flipped and a two-hour manhunt for a Hagerstown man wanted in connection with a drug-trafficking organization began.

Within hours, authorities arrested that man and two of his associates and seized nearly $100,000 worth of cocaine, culminating an eight-month investigation, a DEA agent said.

The DEA agent alleged the three men headed a lucrative drug operation with ties to New York City.

Pete Mitesser, the resident agent in charge of the Hagerstown office of the DEA, said authorities arrested Elijah Kemp, 24, of Hagerstown, following a more than two-hour manhunt that began with an unsuccessful traffic stop on Interstate 81 at 4:50 p.m.


Mitesser alleged that Kemp, along with Frederick Miles III, 46, of Hagerstown, and Ronald Frazier, aka Ronald Perry and Eric Atherton, age unknown, of Manhattan, operated a drug ring. New York City was the supply city and Hagerstown was a distribution base, he said.

Mitesser said the drugs were distributed in such places as Hagerstown, Martinsburg, W.Va., Harrisburg, Pa., and throughout Franklin County, Pa.

Mitesser said all three were charged with possession of and conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.

Frazier also was charged with a drug kingpin count because, Mitesser alleged, he transported in excess of 446 grams of drugs into Maryland, Mitesser said.

Mitesser alleged the ring had been operating for two to three years.

"We've been working them heavy since March," Mitesser said. "I'd say he (Kemp) is one of the biggest in my three years here."

Mitesser said the investigation included police officers from several jurisdictions, including the Washington County and Franklin County narcotics task forces and the Harrisburg DEA.

Agents seized more than one pound of cocaine, worth between $75,000 to $100,000 on the street, and five vehicles on Thursday alone, Mitesser said.

Mitesser said the men were being questioned by investigators at 10:30 p.m. and were to be formally arraigned in Washington County District Court today.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Chris Howard said Kemp was stopped by a marked cruiser on I-81 at approximately 4:50 p.m. in connection with the DEA investigation.

Howard said Kemp sped away and onto Halfway Boulevard, where he was pursued by an unmarked DEA sport utility vehicle, a silver Toyota.

Howard said the pursuit did not include deputies and could not be characterized as a high-speed chase.

At about 4:55 p.m., Kemp stopped his vehicle, which was not described by authorities, in a travel lane of Massey Boulevard. That led to a crash between the DEA's SUV and a white van.

"The agent went to stop his vehicle when his tires skidded, he went into the northbound lanes and a van traveling northbound collided with the agent's vehicle," Howard said.

The Toyota flipped onto its roof on the wet northbound lanes of Massey Boulevard, facing the opposite direction. The SUV, damaged on the driver's side, was resting partly on the curb. The van, a Cumberland Valley Heating & Air Conditioning vehicle being driven by Dennis W. Bryan Jr., 28, of Hagerstown, was upright and stopped directly next to the SUV, facing north.

Howard said both men were taken to Washington County Hospital for nonlife-threatening injuries. Their conditions were unavailable late Thursday.

Meanwhile, Howard said, Kemp ran through woods adjacent to the mall and into the Halfway Manor housing development. Howard said Kemp was taken into custody at a Halfway Manor apartment at about 7 p.m.

Mitesser, who later confirmed the address as 17412 Apple Blossom Court, said Kemp knew the woman who lived there and did not force his way into the residence. Mitesser would not release the woman's identity Thursday, but said a large amount of money was found inside the residence.

Kemp was unarmed at the time of his arrest, Mitesser said.

Mitesser alleged that Kemp was dumping cocaine as he went through the woods.

"We're still finding coke in the woods," Mitesser said at 10:30 p.m.

Staff Writer Gregory T. Simmons contributed to this story.

The Herald-Mail Articles