- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A D.C. police officer protected her boyfriend while he packaged large amounts of crack and heroin on the kitchen table of the couple’s District Heights home, federal prosecutors said this week in describing a drug conspiracy that they say extended from the streets of Northeast Washington to Arizona.

Officer Tamara McGuire, a three-year Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer assigned to the 2nd District until she was placed on administrative leave in May, lived with co-defendant Arthur Elliott III and their young child with “full knowledge of Mr. Elliott’s drug dealing activities,” according to court documents.

“She acted as lookout and warned Elliott of police presence.”

Authorities do not say that Officer McGuire was involved with the distribution, transporting or packaging of narcotics.

The federal indictment against Officer McGuire and 11 others was unsealed last week. On Monday and Tuesday, in arguing for detention of 10 of the 12 defendants, prosecutors offered vivid details related to evidence obtained from wiretaps, undercover drug buys and surveillance in the year-long investigation.

The investigation targeted D.C. resident Jarrell Elliott, Arthur Elliott’s cousin, as the top supplier of the drug conspiracy and a “major distributor” of heroin and crack in the Washington area.

After being charged last week, Officer McGuire was released on her own recognizance.

“Once this case is resolved, MPD will follow up depending on what the outcome is,” said police spokeswoman Officer Tisha Gant.

Gwendolyn Crump, another police spokeswoman, would not say what prompted Officer McGuire’s administrative leave. “As of last week we are in the process of moving toward suspension without pay,” she said, declining to elaborate because it is a personnel matter.

The indictment marks the second time this year a D.C. police officer has been charged with a major crime. Seven-year veteran Officer Reginald Jones pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder and conspiracy stemming from a December street robbery gone wrong.

The FBI and MPD’s Safe Streets Task Force initiated the recent drug conspiracy investigation in July 2009, when authorities got a tip from a confidential informant that a 59-year-old man named Claude Brooks and his girlfriend, Verlissa Taylor, were dealing heroin and crack at 19th Street and Benning Road in Northeast, according to court papers.

Wiretap intercepts and undercover buys showed that Brooks and Taylor received the drugs from Arthur Elliott, according to court papers. Further wiretaps and surveillance led authorities to Mr. Elliott’s District Heights apartment, which he shared with Officer McGuire and their child, described as a “toddler,” where Mr. Elliott is said to have packaged as many as 400 individual bags of heroin at a time.

Authorities said Mr. Elliott had multiple suppliers of crack and heroin, including Gerald Powell, 39, whom prosecutors identified in court as Mr. Elliott’s “most proficient and reliable supplier, second only to Jarrell Elliott.”

Evidence presented to U.S. District Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson included 14 drug purchases from July 2009 to February, in which Arthur Elliott is said to have supplied the drugs to a street dealer. In one instance, prosecutors said, Mr. Elliott personally sold 14 grams of crack to an undercover police officer while seated in his car with his child. Mr. Elliott used a car registered to Officer McGuire for drug dealing purposes, court papers said.

Customer service and coded language characterized the drug distribution conspiracy, prosecutors said.

Mr. Elliott is said to have offered an additional 10 grams of heroin to a buyer when a crack delivery was delayed.

Quantities of drugs were referred to on intercepted calls by the jersey numbers of famous sports figures. Five grams was referred to as a “Donovan McNabb” and seven grams was called a “Michael Vick” — after the two high-profile NFL quarterbacks. Thirty-one grams was known as a “Reggie Miller,” the former NBA star.

Heroin is described as “downtown” or “diesel.”

In all, authorities purchased thousands of individual bags of heroin and crack from the members of the conspiracy, seizing enough crack in one vehicle stop alone to supply more than 8,000 individual bags of crack.

Search warrants executed at the homes of the defendants and their family members yielded large amounts of cash, scales, money counters, vacuum sealers and guns, according to court papers.

Prosecutors said in court this week that wiretap intercepts of Mr. Elliott’s main supplier, Mr. Powell, led them to Jarrell Elliott, whom police followed to Arizona, where authorities say he shipped large amounts of money to himself using phony return addresses. The records say he then flew to Phoenix for purposes of purchasing cocaine, which he then shipped to Washington.

“The girls have arrived,” an unnamed co-conspirator said to Jarrell Elliott after one such trip, according to wiretap intercepts described in court.

Other surveillance and wiretap evidence was presented in court this week that showed Jarrell Elliott made 17 trips to Arizona in the past two years. But his attorney pointed to a number of “player’s club” membership cards at high-end Las Vegas casinos to explain the travel and the shipments of money.

A search of one of his “many girlfriends’ houses” turned up 10 pounds of mannitol, a cutting agent used to dilute heroin, and a closet full of expensive suits and Prada shoes, which Mr. Elliott’s girlfriend identified as belonging to him. Other evidence showed that Mr. Elliott traveled frequently to Jamaica during the past two years as well.

A separate search of Jarrell Elliott’s mother’s house reportedly turned up more than 200 grams of heroin. But his attorney pointed out that Mr. Elliott was never arrested with any drugs or large amounts of money in his possession. “There is no corroborating evidence that Mr. Elliott is involved in any drug dealing activity whatsoever,” his attorney said.

A detention hearing for Jarrell Elliott continues Wednesday. His cousin, Arthur Elliott, was ordered held in custody.