Maryland State Police arrested seven persons and confiscated a large cache of illicit drugs, smashing what investigators called a massive smuggling operation that poured 10 to 20 kilos of cocaine each month primarily into the Washington-Baltimore area and Pennsylvania, a police spokesman said yesterday.
The arrests, made late Thursday and early yesterday at homes in Howard and Baltimore counties, ended a year-long investigation into one of the largest drug rings in Maryland history, according to police.
Officials said state troopers seized three kilograms of suspected cocaine, $5,400 in cash and illegal gambling paraphernalia. They said the drugs apparently were smuggled from Colombia to Maryland by way of Florida.
Officials estimated that each month the ring pumped 10 to 20 kilos -- with a street value of $6 million -- into Maryland, Northern Virginia, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Of the seven arrested suspects, four live in the Washington-Baltimore area and three are from Florida. The Maryland suspects are Jack Goodman, 57, of Owings Mills, charged with conspiracy to smuggle cocaine and possession with intent to distribute; Carl H. Ezersky, 49, of Owings Mills, charged with possession with intent to distribute; John F. Ford Jr., 46, of Ellicott City, charged with possession with intent to distribute and possession of gambling paraphernalia, and Ernest B. Smith Jr., 42, of Columbia, charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
The Florida suspects were identified as Thomas S. Lardiere, 47, of Fort Lauderdale; Lee Ann Grote, 28, of Seminole, and Christine M. Mandalis, 23, of Carol City. Lardiere was charged with conspiracy. Grote and Mandalis were charged with possession with intent to distribute.
The seven were held under bonds ranging from $3,500 to $2 million.