Three Anne Arundel County men were arrested yesterday after a six-month investigation of what police say was a major marijuana distribution ring operating in at least three Maryland counties.
Police from Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties are continuing their probe of the group believed to be responsible for selling 250 pounds of marijuana a month, said Lt. Jeffrey Spaulding, commander of Howard County's Vice and Narcotics Division.
More than 30 people may be arrested in the follow-up investigation, he said.
In April, Howard County police began investigating the ring, which sold marijuana primarily in Howard, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, Lieutenant Spalding said. An undercover narcotics officer infiltrated the group, buying small amounts of the drug in Ellicott City, and was able to win the trust of those in the upper levels of the organization.
Steven Edward Downey, 20, of the 6400 block of Golden Oak Drive in Linthicum, was arrested early yesterday morning at his girlfriend's home in the 400 block of Bathurst Road in Baltimore County. He was charged as a drug kingpin; under state law, the charge carries mandatory penalties for selling large amounts of illegal drugs.
Melvin Gilbert Bowen, 23, of the 800 block of Hammonds Lane in Linthicum, and Eric Anthony Cook, 22, of the 300 block of Gate Water Court in Glen Burnie, were arrested at their homes and charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, police said.
The three men were taken to Anne Arundel police headquarters in Millersville and formally charged. They were to appear before a District Court commissioner last night, an Anne Arundel police spokesman said.
Police usually target cocaine or heroin rings, but Lieutenant Spaulding said they began a large-scale investigation when undercover officer learned that the group often was selling the marijuana in 20- to 50-pound increments.
"To some degree, marijuana dealers get comfortable because I think they know they're not a high priority," he said.
Officers from the three police departments and the state police executed 26 search-and-seizure warrants in Anne Arundel, Howard, Baltimore, Carroll and Allegany counties and in Baltimore City, Lieutenant Spaulding said.
He said that the searches turned up 40 pounds of marijuana, $180,000, as well as $50,000 in negotiable securities and an assortment of packaging material and drug paraphernalia.