Converted bus, candy truck seized during drug raids in Westport Business were fronts to sell crack, police allege


A candy man in Westport was selling the usual things from the converted truck and bus -- milk, bread and candy -- when police became interested in his expanded inventory.

The additional items amounted to a sizable business in crack cocaine, police say.

After a half-year investigation, Baltimore police and federal agents said they made nine arrests and seized a bus turned into a convenience store and a candy truck during a series of raids that broke up a drug ring distributing a pound of cocaine a day in Westport.

Buses converted into small stores are common in the Westport area and offer a variety of items, from milk and bread to batteries. Police said the bus and van they seized were fronts for the crack cocaine network.

Police named their 6-month investigation, "Operation Westport Candy Man," culminating in the arrests Tuesday afternoon.

About 70 police officers from the city, housing authority and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided nine homes in )) Baltimore and Baltimore County and arrested and charged nine people with violating federal drug laws.

Most of the houses raided were in Westport, in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Norfolk St. But police said suspects in the drug gang also were arrested in Essex and Brooklyn and in Southwest Baltimore and a house in the 1700 block of E. Northern Parkway.

Police said the raids netted 420 vials of suspected crack cocaine, 60 bags of suspected crack, a .380 semiautomatic handgun and $2,000. Police said they seized the two buses and four other vehicles.

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