Police sweep 3 neighborhoods for drug suspects


Police swept through three East Baltimore neighborhoods last night, capping an investigation that investigators said broke up a drug ring supplying crack cocaine to at least 30,000 addicts a week.

Officers burst into 10 houses last night -- they hit six others a week ago -- arrested seven people, and seized an estimated $20,000 worth of crack cocaine.

Tuesday night, police arrested a man described as a major dealer who they said was carrying a kilogram of cocaine worth about $500,000. Police said it was a weekly supply for neighborhoods of Ellwood Park, McElderry Park and Madison Street, where the raids occurred.

Ernest Harry Tankard, 57, of the 400 block of N. Montford Ave. was arrested coming to Baltimore from New York, police said. He was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Last night, police were searching for 28 additional suspects charged in warrants in connection with drug selling and shootings that have occurred in the past few months.

The police sweep, dubbed Operation Border Patrol, involved officers from the Eastern and Southeastern districts who joined forces to avoid pushing the drug problem onto each other's turf.

"We were just pushing it back and forth," said Maj. Odis L. Sistrunk Jr., commander of the Eastern District. "We wanted to solve the problem."

Maj. John E. Gavrilis, commander of the Southeastern District, said, "We are here to tell you that as of right now, there are no borders when it comes to drugs."

In last week's raids, police seized a high-powered semiautomatic assault rifle with a laser pinpoint scope and a 100-round magazine. The weapon was so unusual, police officials said, that they plan to display it in the museum at the firearms training lab.

Last night, residents in the 100 block of N. Ellwood Ave. applauded police as they escorted suspects to waiting police vans. On Tuesday, two men were shot outside a house raided yesterday. Police said it was drug-related.

"Those guys were blatant about selling drugs," said Maria Johnson, 24, who lives next door to where the shooting occurred. She has lived in the house since she was 7. "Either they clean up the neighborhood or we have to get out."

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