A Maryland man described as the ring leader and 18 other persons have been charged by the Metropolitan Police Department as members of a highly-organized major drug ring that sold narcotics around 14th and T Streets NW that led to four overdose deaths here last November.
The alleged ring leader, Calvin Agurs, 28, of 7707 Hawthorne St., Landover, was held under $1 million cash bond after his arrest yesterday. Agurs was described by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roger M. Adelman and C. Madison Brewer as the "director or majordomo" of the narcotics distribution system.
The 24-hour-a-day drug selling network operated out of as many as seven different apartment in the 14th Street NW corridor, prosecutors said yesterday, and Agurs reportedly grossed as much as $20,000 a day.
The drugs were distributed at the street level by 12 to 15 full-time employees of Agurs' and were stored under armed guard in the apartments used by the ring, Adelman said yesterday in a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Henery Kennedy.
Adelman said Agurs has been seen with boxes and bags full of cash and owns various expensive automobiles. He reportedly would make as many as three or four trips into Washington daily to keep his various apartments supplied with heroin, Adelman added.
The prosecutors said they had evidence to show that Agurs' drug network specifically distributed "the heroin that caused the overdose deaths" that occurred last Nov. 12 and 13. Approximately 33 other persons who suffered overdoses from the drugs were admitted to various hospitals at the time.
The drug that caused the deaths was brown heroin, known on the street as "Mexican mud." It had an unusually high degree of purity. The systems of the addicts who used the heroin were not accustomed to the level of purity they encountered, and collapsed under its impact.
Agurs is charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics, as are the other 18 persons named in arrest warrants. At least 14 of those persons have been arrested so far. The others are fugitives.
The arrest affidavit and court statements did not describe how the network happened to distribute such powerful heroin. However, police sources said they have received information that the distribution of the high purity drug was not accidental.
The sources said the drug network reportedly ran out of material with which to "cut" the purity of the heroin on a busy Friday night and decided to continue distributing it anyway.
Agurs was convicted of three felonies in D.C. between 1971 and 1973, and currently is on parole until 1980. His past convictions are on burglary, carrying a gun and drug charges, Adelman said.
Adelman said Agurs' network sold the narcotics in quantites of "fifties and quarters," street terms that mean quantities worth $50 and $100, respectively.
"From time to time, Mr. Agurs announced to addicts that dope was present and the addicts would flock to that location," Adelman told the hearing.
Magistrate Kennedy said he would agree to the government's request for a high bond because Agurs' alleged role as a "major narcotics traffiker," and that persons charged with such offenses are likely to flee. Some of the others charged in the drug ring have been released on personal bond.
D.C. narcotics detective Charles J. Marcum and Alan Penberg, operating under Sgt. Raymon Gonzales, handled the months-long investigation.
In an affidavit filed with the magistrate, Marcum stated that he was told that addicts would place orders for heroin and pay cash to "runners" on the street, who then would return to one of several apartments in Northwest Washington that were rented on a temporary basis from regular tenants.
The runners would buy the heroin from "inside" people at these apartments, then deliver it to the addicts at pre-arranged locations in the vicinity of 14th and T NW.
According to Marcum's affidavit, Agurs allegedly would deliver three shipments of heroin a day to whatever apartment was being used at that time.
Police identified others arrested in the case on charges of conspiracy to violate federal narcotics laws as:
Joseph H. King Jr., 33, of 1003 S St. NW; Walter C. Powell, 37, of 8715 lst Ave., Silver Spring; William E. Johnson Jr., 28, of 1630 Fuller St. NW, Apt. 306; Samuel Reed, 21, of 2000 16th St. NW, Apt. 45; Michael D. Gordon, 23, of 1424 W St. NW, Apt. 33; Ricardo Rollins, 25, of 1743 Seaton St. NW, and Robert D. Hazel, 20, of 3624 Brothers Place SE.
Also, Monte D. Fields, 25, of 1901 D SE; Phillip W. White, 42 of 1830 17th St. NW, Apt. 104; Abraham Fuller, 34, of 1435 Newton St. NW; Henry B. Culbreath, 29. of 1440 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Apt. 123; Maxine Young, 24, of 1415 6th St. NW, an Laverne Baker, 21, of 2305 Skyland Pl. SE.