Montgomery County police and federal drug officials said yesterday that they broke up a major drug distribution ring during the weekend when they arrested eight persons and confiscated two gallons of liquid PCP valued at $1 million and two pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $300,000.
The PCP, found stored in quart-sized mouthwash bottles in the trunk of an accused dealer's automobile, was "enough to supply all of Montgomery County," said county police Sgt. Ronald Ricucci.
"This much of a seizure is going to be felt on the street," said Maj. Virgil Hottinger, chief of the investigations division of the county police. He predicted that PCP will be in short supply here, at least temporarily.
The arrests came when the suspected dealers produced large amounts of drugs ordered by undercover agents, officials said. They said that about 20 police and federal agents participated in the raids conducted at four Montgomery County locations Friday and Saturday nights.
Officials estimated that there were "a million hits" in the PCP recovered in the weekend drug bust, which climaxed a 10-month investigation of a drug operation that they said reached as far as California and New York.
Arrested and charged with drug possession and distribution were Julio Alberto Barrios Sr., 44, and Julio Alberto Barrios Jr., 23, both of West New York, N.J.; Marc Andrew Bell, 19, 414 Hayworth Place, Oxon Hill; Williah Gillus, 33, 3215 13th St. NW; Nathaniel Lee Harding, 33, 732 Narrowleaf Dr., Upper Marlboro; Ferdinand Terry Moore III, 32, 3803 Dunsianane Dr., Silver Spring; Ronald Kirt Qualls, 30, 9737 Mount Pisgah Rd., Silver Spring, and Norval Anthony Williams Jr., 24, 4036 Martin Luther King Ave. SW.
Officials said the investigation was triggered by a tip received in January from Prince George's County police. One Montgomery officer was assigned to follow up on the tip, Hottinger and Ricucci said.
Working undercover, the officer was able to infiltrate the ring of dealers selling cocaine, then team up with an undercover federal agent to continue the investigation, officials said. They said that when the two agents asked the cocaine dealers where they could obtain PCP, they were referred to a woman who helped them make connection with PCP suppliers.
The woman has not been arrested, officials said.
The undercover agents worked the case "at great personal risk" and their names were not being released, officials said.
In the first raid, at 5:30 p.m. Friday, police went to Qualls' apartment in Silver Spring and arrested him, Harding and the Barrioses. Police said they found a brown paper bag containing two pounds of cocaine and charged the four with cocaine possession and distribution.
Three hours later, police went to Moore's Silver Spring house, confiscated a quantity of drugs and arrested Moore and Gillus on charges of possession of marijuana, cocaine and a handgun.
At 12:30 a.m. Sunday at University Boulevard and Georgia Avenue in Wheaton, police arrested Bell and Williams and found the PCP in Bell's car. Both were charged with PCP distribution.