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Druid Heights raiders nab 9, get drugs, cash


A force of 150 city and federal police officers raided 15 homes in the city's Druid Heights community today, arresting nine people and seizing more than 2 kilograms of cocaine and at least $14,000 in cash.

Police were seeking seven others in the neighborhood in connection with several drug organizations that were working in the neighborhood, which police described as the most heavily trafficked area in the Central District.

Today's high-profile raid followed the quieter arrests of 50 others over the past two weeks, police said. Forty warrants were issued, with 16 of the suspects being sought in the Druid Heights community.

The raid began at 10:30 a.m. with city police and federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents simultaneously sweeping into the homes.

Those targeted were described as midlevel street dealers.

Police and federal officers raided houses in the 1800, 1900 and 2300 blocks of Etting St.; 500 block of Robert St.; 2000 block of Druid Hill Ave.; 2100 block of McCulloh St.; 500 block of Bloom St.; 2200 block of Brunt St.; and 1500 block of Park Ave.

Maj. Leonard Hamm, commander of the Central District, said police earlier this week arrested a major drug supplier . That person's identity was not available today. Major Hamm said the operation showed that drug activity is not confined to the inner city, but "it is the inner city that suffers."

This was the fourth high-profile raid since Police Commissioner Thomas E. Frazier started working in January. Operation Midway and Operation Mideast were directed out of headquarters by the department's Violent Crimes Task Force.

The latest raids were smaller in size and were among the first to be directed from district stations in an effort by Commissioner Frazier to allow detectives in the nine police districts to conduct their own drug investigations using equipment such as undercover audio and video surveillance cameras.

Sheriff John W. Anderson remarked: "It's a great day for communities in Baltimore City. We took off some bad people who have been terrorizing this community. This isn't a one-shot deal. We are going to be back, just like the bad guys and take them out."

Residents had mixed views about whether the raid would successfully end the drug trade in their neighborhood.

"It's great. I love it because I can't get no sleep at night or during the day and we we're always dodging bullets," said Deborah Franklin, 42, a resident of the 500 block of Robert St. "I hope they come back again and again."

But Mark Simms, 25, of the 1800 block of Etting St., dismissed the raid as a "publicity stunt."

"After a couple of days, it will all be the same again. It really doesn't do anything at all but let the police and politicians get on TV," said Mr. Simms.

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