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Phone tip leads to $1 million cocaine seizure


An anonymous phone tip to a police drug hot line yesterday led city narcotics detectives to a Northeast Baltimore hotel, where they seized 2 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $1 million and arrested three New York residents.

The police received a call to the 685-DRUG number at 8:30 a.m. yesterday reporting that three people were selling drugs out of a hotel room, said Capt. Michael J. Andrew, commander of the Criminal Investigation Division narcotics unit.

An hour later, narcotics detectives knocked at the hotel room door and were admitted, even though they did not have a search warrant. They seized a 1-kilogram package and four 1/4 -kilogram packages of pure rock cocaine. They also found $175 cash and some gold jewelry, which was confiscated because it may have been purchased with money that came from the sale of drugs, police said. No weapons were seized in the raid.

The police arrested Dora Ramos, 24, Alberto Collado, 24, and Samuel Forero, 26. All three are residents of the borough of Queens in New York City. They were charged with interstate transportation of an illegal substance, possession of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. All three suspects werebeing held pending bail hearings.

Although detectives said they were not sure how long the three had been operating out of the hotel, which police would not identify, "we did have information that they didn't just check in, that they had been there for a while," Captain Andrew said. Detectives are investigating whether others are involved in the drug ring, and more arrests may follow, he said.

It is unusual that an anonymous phone tip would lead to such a large seizure of drugs, Captain Andrew said. The dealers probably paid $50,000 for the raw cocaine in New York, but its value increases as it is broken down into smaller packages for street sale.

The drugs seized yesterday were to be sold to dealers, who would break them down and possibly dilute them with a non-narcotic powder. When the 2 kilograms are finally broken down into 1-gram packages that are commonly sold on the street, they would be worth about $1 million, Captain Andrew said.

The drug hot line has been a valuable source of information for narcotics detectives, with one call in every five leading to an arrest, Captain Andrew said.

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