Four vials of crack seized as evidence in the May 19 arrest of an alleged drug dealer in Washington's 3rd Police District have disappeared, leading to the dropping of the case by the U.S. attorney's office, according to documents and sources.

A member of the 3rd District drug enforcement unit who participated in the case was reassigned Thursday, and a second officer involved in the arrest has had his police powers revoked because traces of cocaine were found in his urine during a physical examination at the police clinic, according to a document.

Aspects of the 3rd District incident, which is under investigation by the police department's Internal Affairs Division, closely resemble allegations being probed by a federal grand jury that members of the city's 4th District vice unit skimmed drugs and money seized during raids and arrests.

The grand jury investigation is limited to the 4th District, although similar skimming allegations have been made about other D.C. police narcotics units. The 3rd District incident is the first that has surfaced to suggest that the practice may extend beyond the 4th District in upper Northeast and Northwest Washington. The 3rd District is in central Northwest.

According to an internal U.S. attorney's office memo, the 3rd District incident involved the arrest of Johnnie Edwards, 24, who was charged with distributing cocaine after allegedly selling five vials of crack, a potent form of cocaine, to three undercover officers. Charges against him were dismissed Oct. 8.

According to the Oct. 14 memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, "It is a mystery as to what happened" to four of the vials, which "never made it into evidence" records.

"To make matters worse, {undercover officer} Rodney Jones, who received the four vials of crack from the defendant, has subsequently tested positive for cocaine. Given the substantial problems raised by this scenario, we decided not to proceed with the case," the memo states.

A D.C. police spokesman said last night that Jones' police powers were revoked and he was placed in a position in which he will not come into contact with the public. The spokesman said Jones underwent a "physical examination for fitness of duty" on Sept 18. According to the U.S. attorney's memo, Jones tested positive for cocaine in a urinalysis.

The police spokesman said the department is "aware of drug allegations pertaining to Officer Jones," but declined to elaborate.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.

According to the U.S. attorney's memo, Edwards sold Jones and undercover officers Angelo Hicks and Tonya Edwards five vials of crack for $50, giving one vial to Hicks and four to Jones. The memo states that Edwards was paid with money whose serial numbers had been recorded by police.

When questioned about the missing four vials, Hicks, according to the memo, said he "thinks that Jones gave the vials back to {Johnnie Edwards} and {Edwards} threw them into the bushes when a marked {police} car appeared as {Edwards} was exiting their vehicle. None of the arresting officers, however, were told to check the bushes for additional drugs by Hicks or the other two undercover officers."

The memo adds that "it is doubtful that {Johnnie Edwards} discarded the drugs when he was so close to his home" at 1401 Fairmont St. NW.

A police spokesman declined yesterday to say whether Hicks has been reassigned but noted that he is currently a "uniformed patrol officer." A police source said that Hicks, who had been with the 3rd District drug enforcement unit, was reassigned to a patrol unit on Thursday.

The police spokesman said that Tonya Edwards was previously transferred to the department's traffic branch at her own request.

Documents filed in the case in D.C. Superior Court, including a D.C. police "report of drug property collected, purchased or seized," refer to only one vial of crack.

According to the court documents, Officers Hicks, Jones and Tonya Edwards drove to the 1400 block of Fairmont Street NW, where a man got into the back seat of their car and "displayed five vials with white crystals" inside. The documents state that the man was given $50 for one vial of the white substance, which later tested positive for cocaine.

According to the documents, Johnnie Edwards was arrested about 25 minutes after he got out of the car. Police searched him and found the $50 in prerecorded bills and a small bag of marijuana, the documents state.

However, according to a document filed by Edwards' attorney, Officer Marvin Watts testified at a preliminary hearing that Edwards had no money or drugs on him at the time of his arrest.