Fairfax County police, acting on complaints of blatant illegal drug sales to juveniles at the Lake Anne Plaza shopping mall in Reston, yesterday arrested seven men on cocaine and marijuana distribution charges in predawn raids.
Seven additional adults and four juveniles still were being sought by police last night.
The raids, which police said "literally caught the suspects sleeping," were the result of a three-month undercover investigation launched after a number of citizens reported seeing drug sales carried out at the mall.
The shopping center, located in a scenic area adjacent to Lake Anne on the planned community's north side, has become "a natural gathering point for kids all over Northern Virginia who are looking for a [drug] connection" a high-ranking vice investigator said.
He said "an overwhelming number" of the sales were to juveniles.
Charged yesterday were Reston residents Calvin Follin, 21, and Greg Kiernan, 22, both of 11913 Winterhur La.; Coy F. Payton Jr., 25, and David W. Ruppert, 22, both of 1541 Cameron Crescent Dr.; Michael A. Beddell, 24, of 1424 Northgate Sq., and Garry E. Gray, 25, of 1566 Cameron Crescent Dr., and Steven Rhed, 19, of 7005 Miller Ave., McLean.
A small quantity of drugs was confiscated at Follin's residence, according to a police spokesman. Six vehicles also were impounded during the raids carried out by 15 county police officers.
Follin was charged with one count of distributing marijuana and two counts of cocaine distribution, police said Kiernan was charged with one count of selling cocaine. Payton, Beddell, Ruppert and Rhed were charged with one count each of selling marijuana, and Gray with one count of selling hashish.
The undercover operation involved six vice officers, who police said both observed drug sales at the mall and made direct drug buys.
A top vice investigator said yesterday the Reston undercover effort is continuing and that police expect to make more arrests.
Capt. Donald Schrum, commander of the Reston substation, said he decided to infiltrate Lake Anne Plaza, owned by Gulf Reston Inc., shortly after he became Reston District chief last May in response to residents' complaints about drug dealing.
"People were talking about considerable drug traffic there," Schrum said. "There was enough of it that it was becoming a real nuisance."
Some Lake Anne merchants hailed yesterday's crackdown, citing idle teen-agers who congregate at the mall and another nearby Reston mall, Hunters Woods, as a source of potential trouble.
"It's a hangout for the younger crowd," said Jim Cobb, 31, a Lake Anne merchant. "There have been numerous break-ins, at the medical buildings behind the plaza, for example, for the sheer joy of vandalism."
"If you were on the plaza regularly, you knew the drug activity was happening," said Sue Schram, who operates a used book store with her partner, Sue Weston, president of the Lake Anne Plaza Merchants' Association.
The plaza, a collection of about 20 small shops, is adjacent to the Lake Anne Center office complex. Together they form the architectural centerpiece of Reston. The shopping area has been the site of periodic drug activity dating back to the late 1960s.
Fairfax police singled out both Lake Anne and Hunters Woods last September as scenes of drug activity. "There are drug deals going down, purse snatchings," said one officer at the time. "The lake attracts [juveniles]. I guess it's pretty romatic."