- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Federal drug agents and local police swept through the District, Virginia and Maryland yesterday, with coordinated efforts in Georgia and New York, in a massive raid on a drug ring that shipped millions of dollars of PCP, crack cocaine and Ecstasy to buyers.

Armed with arrest and search warrants, along with two related federal grand jury indictments handed up in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, more than 300 agents arrested 20 persons in raids at 25 locations — with at least six more arrests expected.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Lou Leary described the ring as “the largest known PCP trafficking organization to be operating in the metropolitan area, if not nationally,” adding that the arrests in Northeast “should hopefully pave the way for the return of a safe and better neighborhood.”

“PCP has been making a comeback and today’s message to drug dealers should be, ‘Not in our city,’” Ms. Leary said, adding that 11 of those arrested were taken into custody by authorities in the District, Virginia and Maryland.

The raids culminated a two-year undercover investigation as part of an FBI/Metropolitan Police Department Safe Streets Task Force, which targets street gangs and drug-related violence, and focused on an operation that routed PCP, crack and Ecstasy to buyers on the East Coast.

The two indictments listed 92 counts in a conspiracy that sought to “obtain as much money and other things of value as possible” through the sale of the drugs.

The indictments said the drug organization also sought to “promote and enhance the reputation and standing” of those involved in the operation, and that its members carried and used firearms.

Ms. Leary identified the ringleaders as Robert P. Bascom and Abdul Smith, both 31, who operated out of New York City. She said they arranged for the shipment of PCP from other areas, including the West Coast, to the District through a Maryland man identified as Herbert E. Martin, 37, also known as “the Worm.”

Ms. Leary said much of the operation was centered in the 1200 block of 18th Street NE, the 1200 block of 18th Place NE and the 1700 and 1800 blocks of M Street NE. John L. Franklin, 31, of the 1300 block of Belmont Street NW, was identified by authorities as the organization’s local leader.

Ms. Leary said Mr. Bascom, Mr. Smith and Mr. Franklin, who is in custody, distributed the drugs to customers in the Northeast neighborhood. They are accused of conspiracy to distribute and possess illicit drugs, and face life in prison without parole if convicted on all charges.

Authorities seized more than $1 million worth of PCP, also known as phencyclidine, they said was intended to be sold on the streets of Northeast. They also confiscated 16 firearms and $100,000 in cash in the early-morning raids.

“The important thing about these arrests is not necessarily the litany of guns and drugs taken off the streets, but the dismantlement of a criminal enterprise,” said Michael A. Mason, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office. “This is its own brand of terrorism.”

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