A pair of uniformed Baltimore police officers keeping tabs on a convicted drug dealer released from prison in December arrested the man yesterday and recovered about 1,500 single-serving packages of suspected heroin.
A loaded 9mm Ruger handgun was also confiscated during the arrest.
Western District Officers Kevin Turner, 24, and Warren Smith, 25, made the bust about 9:45 a.m. yesterday in the 1600 block of West Fayette St., a neighborhood, police said, where drug traffic is blatant and the dealers armed and arrogant.
"They know this guy, and they've been watching him. They took a significant risk," said Lt. James Rainey of the Western District. "We have plainclothes officers, they don't make this kind of bust that often. They got him with a 9mm at his fingertips."
Investigators said Officer Turner, on the force for three years, and Officer Smith, a five-year veteran, were on patrol yesterday when they saw a lone driver in a 1987 Mercury Cougar pull up to a rowhouse in the 1600 block of West Fayette St.
"The car was still running," Lieutenant Rainey said. "And they were waiting for him."
When the officers got close enough to the car to see a gun on the driver's door armrest the man bailed out of the Cougar and ran into a nearby house. Left behind, police said, were the handgun and a gym bag stuffed with some 1,500 individually packaged bags of suspected heroin valued at about $10 each.
The officers chased the man into a Mount Street house and made the arrest.
"They got him before he was able to give the stuff to his people for distribution," Lieutenant Rainey said.
The man was identified by police as James Damon Smith, 22, of the 1900 block of West Lanvale St.
Found guilty in 1990 of distributing cocaine, the suspect was BTC released from the Maryland Division of Correction in December. A month later, according to police, he was arrested for a drug-related offense.
He was being held yesterday on charges of intent to distribute heroin and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun.