Pr. George's Police Arrest 2 In Marijuana-Shipping Plot
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Prince George's County police announced yesterday that they have arrested a deliveryman and another man who they say are involved in a scheme to smuggle marijuana by shipping packages addressed to unsuspecting recipients, including a delivery last week to the wife of the mayor of Berwyn Heights.
The county Sheriff's Office SWAT team and narcotics officers raided the home of Mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, after intercepting a package addressed to her that was filled with 32 pounds of marijuana. During the raid, officers broke down Calvo's door and fatally shot the family's two black Labrador retrievers.
Police said the package was one of about a half-dozen retrieved by authorities in the past week along the route of a deliveryman in northern Prince George's. The packages contained a combined 417 pounds of marijuana valued at about $3.6 million.
Police Chief Melvin C. High would not rule out that Calvo and Tomsic had some involvement in the delivery. Asked whether police had cleared them, he said: "From all the indications at the moment, they had an unlikely involvement, but we don't want to draw that definite conclusion at the moment." He later said, "Most likely, they were innocent victims."
Neither he nor Sheriff Michael A. Jackson apologized for the raid, which they said was conducted responsibly, given what deputies and officers knew at the time.
Calvo declined to comment. Timothy Maloney, an attorney for Calvo and Tomsic, said the arrests confirm that Tomsic was a "random victim of identity theft at the hands of major drug traffickers."
"This crime was compounded by law enforcement when it illegally invaded the Calvo home, tied up the mayor and his mother-in-law, and killed the family dogs," he said in an e-mail. "The Calvo family is still waiting for an explanation from law enforcement as to how this could possibly have happened."
Police had been tracking the package since a drug-sniffing dog in Arizona drew attention to it. Calvo has said law enforcement officers burst into his home moments after he picked up the package from his porch and brought it in. It had been left on the porch on the instructions of his mother-in-law by police posing as deliverymen. Calvo has said sheriff's deputies entered without knocking and began shooting immediately.
High said one of the men arrested was an independent contractor who worked as a package deliveryman. The police chief did not release the name of either man.
High and Maj. Mark Magaw, commander of the county's narcotics enforcement division, said the two suspects worked in tandem. The officials said that the deliveryman would drop off the package and that the other man would come by shortly thereafter and retrieve it.
At other times, the officials said, the suspects exchanged packages face to face in parking lots. In two instances, Magaw said, the deliveryman mistakenly took drugs to the wrong address, then went to the houses and asked for the packages.
He said police investigating the case uncovered a separate and parallel scheme to use the package delivery system to send marijuana. They arrested two other men yesterday in connection with that conspiracy and seized about 100 pounds of marijuana.