D.C. and Prince George's County police are forming a special task force with federal law enforcement authorities to attack the epidemic of drug-related slayings occurring in the area, according to police and federal officials.

"What this will do is we will bring all of our resources together and the emphasis will be on the homicides, drugs and guns," said Maj. James Ross, commander of investigative services for the Prince George's County Police Department.

Federal and local law enforcement officials already share information, but the task force would make the process formal and increase the possibility of federal funding, officials said.

D.C. police and some federal agencies refused to comment on the task force, saying it would be premature to do so.

Slayings in the District and the county increasingly have been linked to thriving drug sales, and homicide and narcotics detectives routinely team up to solve cases, police said. Federal agents have expertise on the smuggling of drugs, weapons and illegal aliens who sometimes are involved in narcotics, officials said.

"With these homicide cases, you almost have to run a narcotics case parallel; that's where the information is coming from to close these things," said Ross.

Last year, about 60 percent of the 228 homicides in the District were described by police as drug-related. In the county, about a third of the 98 slayings involved drugs, police said.

Typically drug-related murders involve battles over a drug dealer's turf or money or drugs owed, confrontations with people under the influence of drugs or people who are committing other crimes to support a habit, police said.

Frequently, those slayings involve sophisticated automatic weapons and men in their late teens, twenties or thirties, police said. Often, narcotics are found on or near the bodies and the slayings take place in neighborhoods notorious for drug trafficking, police said.

Increasingly, drug-related killings involve out-of-town drug dealers and reflect an areawide growth in drug sales, especially crack, police said. Crack is highly addictive, rock-like cocaine that is smoked.

The task force preliminarily would include representatives of both police forces, the U.S. Park Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Park Police have concurrent jurisdiction with other area police departments and last year executed more than 70 narcotics search warrants in the District, according to police sources. ATF agents already are working with District and county vice squads to trace weapons recovered in narcotics and homicide cases.

Under federal law, a person convicted of a narcotics charge who also uses a weapon must receive an additional five- to 20-year prison term. DEA and INS agents have expertise on drug smuggling and illegal aliens.

"When criminals organize, law enforcement officials have to organize," said James D. Goldman, INS senior special agent and manager of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. "The angle now is . . . more concentrated on homicides. I don't know if drugs will play a secondary role or a parallel role."

In the last two weeks, police and federal agents have worked together in an effort to solve the Jan. 22 drug-related shooting deaths of five persons in Landover.

County police have issued arrest warrants for three men from Brooklyn in connection with those shootings.

"We already work very, very closely with all these federal agencies and the Metropolitan Police Department sharing information and data," said Ross.

"We can't work in a vacuum. That {the task force} would be a formalization," he said.