A 51-year-old businessman, described by the chief Fairfax County prosecutor as a "major trafficker" of drugs, was arrested yesterday on a charge of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute it. He was held under $1 million bond in the county jail.

Earl H. Breeden, of 8501 Robin Ridge Rd., was arrested about 8 a.m. at his home by Fairfax County police, who said they confiscated a quarter-pound of cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said Breeden is suspected of traveling to Florida over the weekend to pick up a substantial quantity of cocaine and that "all our information suggests that he is a major trafficker." He noted that Breeden already had pending against him charges of receiving stolen property and possessing a controlled drug (cocaine) with intent to distribute it.

Lawrence Freedman, Breeden's attorney, said his client, principal owner of Breeden Mechanical Inc. at 4623 West Ox Rd., is "a very successful businessman in this area" and has a wife and two children. "I really feel that the state has no business trying to characterize him as a major trafficker when, in fact, he is not," said Freedman. "Four ounces of cocaine hardly makes someone a major dealer."

Horan acknowledged that a quarter-pound of cocaine -- which police said, depending on purity, has an average street value of $8,000 -- was "not a lot of cocaine. But, from all the evidence, he's going right on with his business even while all these other charges are pending."

According to an affidavit filed in Fairfax Circuit Court in support of a search warrant, police were told by an informant that Breeden was flying from Miami to Washington last Saturday with a large amount of cocaine.

Police determined that Breeden was on a flight that landed at 9:20 that night at National Airport, the affidavit states, and, through another source, it was established that Breeden was in possession of more than a pound of cocaine later that evening.

"Our informer on numerous occasions in the past month has supplied police with information concerning stolen property and narcotics," according to the affidavit, filed by investigators Richard J. Cline and Donald R. Lenhart.

The affidavit stated that the informant had used cocaine with Breeden in the past week, and that the informant had witnessed Breeden conduct illegal drug transactions on several occasions and receive stolen property.

On July 15, Breeden, who already was facing an Aug. 27 trial on a cocaine-possession charge and was free on $100,000 bond, according to jail records, was indicted by a Fairfax Circuit Court grand jury on eight counts of receiving stolen property. His trial date on those charges was set for Sept. 11.

Breeden had been given a two-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a 1984 charge of unlawfully possessing a sawed-off shotgun, according to his attorney.

On July 2, police said, a man who had argued with Breeden at his home left and returned with a gun, fired several shots into the home, then entered through a rear door and kicked open a door to a bedroom where several family members were hiding, and fired several more shots.

Ronald Burkhart, 36, of Annandale, was later arrested on charges of shooting into an occupied dwelling, burglary with intent to commit murder, use of a firearm in commission of a felony and destruction of private property in the incident. He was jailed under $51,000 bond.