A recent raid that netted nearly 30 kilograms of cocaine and a half-million dollars broke up a local drug syndicate and ranks as the Metropolitan Police Department's largest seizure in more than a decade, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Wednesday.
The four men charged with drug distribution were part of a "major drug organization trying to set up in the area," she said.
A cellphone wiretap and the placement of a camera inside a storage unit where the men were thought to keep the drugs ultimately led to the arrests, according to federal court documents.
"It's a big case and a big seizure," Chief Lanier said, adding the drugs were likely destined for city neighborhoods.
Gezo Edwards, 37, of Silver Spring; William M. Bowman, 31, of Bowie; Robert C. Richards, 35, of Seat Pleasant; and Willie S. Moorer, 37, of the District, were arrested April 26 at a Hyattsville storage unit, where the cocaine and two guns were recovered, according to court records.
In January, D.C. police and FBI agents began tapping Mr. Bowman's cellphone and listened as he told multiple people that he "would be able to supply them with cocaine in the near future," a criminal complaint says.
Over the next four months, police said they trailed Mr. Bowman as he met with a number of people in the area of East Capitol Street and Benning Road and listened to his phone conversations as drug customers placed orders and he passed them on to Mr. Moorer.
On April 25, agents said they tracked Mr. Bowman to the Hyattsville storage facility and watched Mr. Richards wheel a suitcase into a unit Mr. Bowman rented. The camera placed inside the storage unit captured Mr. Edwards taking kilogram blocks out of the suitcase and breaking them down into smaller packages, court documents said. A kilogram is 2.2 pounds.
FBI agents moved in that night to seize the drugs from the storage unit. When Mr. Bowman returned to the unit the next day and saw the drugs were missing, he called the other three men and told them to come to the unit. One by one as the men arrived, police arrested them.
All four were being held without bond. An attorney for Mr. Bowman declined to comment, and attorneys for Mr. Edwards and Mr. Richards could not immediately be reached. An attorney representing Mr. Moorer said he has not yet been able to review the evidence against his client.
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