Seven people were in custody last night as the result of a six-month investigation of the Westminster cocaine trade by the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force.
Drug prosecutors said at a news conference yesterday that the investigation led to the infiltration of several of the city's drug-dealing organizations.
According to testimony at a bail hearing, task force officers seized 11 rocks of crack cocaine from one suspect, James Carter "Sugarbear" Brightful, 47, of 105 E. Main St.
But the prosecutors declined to say yesterday how large the alleged drug organizations were or how much total cocaine was taken off the streets in the arrests.
"The amount of drugs isn't what's important," said Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III, the task force coordinator.
"What is important is the person's behavior and our ability to stop drug dealing."
Mr. Walker said that he did not expect to file drug kingpin charges in the case.
The state's kingpin statute is used when 400 grams or more of cocaine are found.
According to indictments unsealed yesterday, six of the seven people arrested live in Westminster, the other in Baltimore.
All of the suspected drug activity alleged in the indictments took place in downtown Westminster -- at an East Main Street apartment, on Pennsylvania Avenue, and in the Westminster City Playground behind the former city police headquarters.
Suspects in the Carroll County Detention Center last night on bail ranging up to $40,000 were Mr. Brightful; Luther Maurice "Booty" Smith, 20, of 148 S. Center St.; Ivolee Laurie "Ivy" Henson, 23, of 745 Johan Drive; Joseph Thomas Savage Jr., 35, of no fixed address; Patrick McQuire Magruder, 42, of 58 Charles St.; and Corey McKinley Davis, 24, of 407 Swann Ave.
An 18-year-old from Mount Airy was being held at the Charles W. Hickey School.
Task force officers expect to arrest two more adults and another juvenile in connection with the investigation, the officials said yesterday.
Mr. Walker said that several of the suspects might be eligible for prosecution under the state's two- and three-time loser statutes.
Task force officers arrested the suspects Wednesday night and early yesterday.
Mr. Walker and Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman told reporters yesterday that the investigation was a big one for the task force, but that the probe was only the first phase of a concerted effort to rid Carroll County of open-air drug dealing.
"The drug task force concept proved itself out in this case," said Mr. Hickman, who is running for re-election this year. "You can make this drug war work by sending away the pushers and giving help to the users."
According to Mr. Walker and a press release prepared by the task force, the investigation relied on confidential informants, on undercover officers from Carroll and surrounding counties, on video-taped surveillance and on hand-to-hand drug buys between dealers and police.
Officials declined to be more specific about techniques used in the investigation.
They declined, they said, because the probe is continuing and because more indictments are expected.
According to the indictments, all of the suspects have been charged with numerous cocaine dealing, possession and conspiracy charges.