A 53-year-old man who authorities say controlled much of the heroin market in Northwest Washington has been arrested and charged with heroin distribution after being under investigation by the D.C. police and other authorities for more than a decade.

The arrest two weeks ago of James Edwood (Dumptruck Smitty) Smith, of 12216 Parkton St., Fort Washington, is considered the most important success by local law enforcement agencies since the October 1985 arrest of Cornell Mert Jones, the cocaine kingpin of the Hanover Place drug market. Jones was sentenced to 27 years in prison in 1986 after pleading guilty to a drug conspiracy charge.

Smith has been considered a major narcotics figure by law enforcement authorities since his arrest and subsequent conviction here for herion distribution in 1964.

Authorities estimate the heroin trade does more than $1.5 million in business each day on the city's streets. About half of the city's wholesale heroin trade is conducted in the Northwest quadrant, sources said yesterday.

All court papers concerning Smith's arrest and the subsequent large-scale property seizures remained under court seal yesterday, except for a three-sentence criminal complaint charging him with possession with intent to distribute heroin.

Sources said Smith was arrested Feb. 6 in Southwest Washington. The criminal complaint charges that Smith delivered 89.4 grams, or about three ounces, of heroin to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent five days earlier.

After Smith's arrest, authorities seized more than 40 vehicles, including cars, limousines and trucking equipment, a large farm in Maryland, several houses in Richmond, as much as $500,000 in cash and a massive amount of gold jewelry -- its weight alone valued at $360,000, according to sources.

Defense attorney Frank Dunham confirmed yesterday that Smith was arrested, but said he was under court order not to divulge any additional information about the case.

Smith, who was charged with heroin distribution, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Jean F. Dwyer in a closed hearing on Feb. 8 and again on Wednesday and was ordered held without bond, according to court records. Dunham said he believed Smith was not a threat to the community and argued that he should be released pending trial. Under the federal speedy trial act, a defendant must be indicted within 30 days of his arrest.

Heroin distribution carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Within hours of Smith's arrest, sources said, scores of D.C. police officers, DEA agents and other law enforcement officers had begun searching Smith's property and seizing assets. The vehicles seized included dump trucks and car-moving equipment, sources said.

Smith's arrest preceded by two days the arrest by D.C. police and FBI agents of another alleged area narcotics figure, William Edward (Dog) Turner, on heroin distribu-All papers concerning Smith's arrest remained under court seal.

tion charges. Turner, 54, of 225 Hermleigh Rd., Silver Spring, was arrested Feb. 8 after he allegedly sold about seven ounces of heroin to an undercover FBI agent. A rifle and a semiautomatic pistol, ammunition and more than $46,000 in cash were seized during a subsequent search of Turner's house. Officials said last night that the amount of property seized from Smith will eclipse the $2.5 million in cash, jewelry, cocaine, cars and gold seized from Cornell Jones after his arrest.

On July 31, 1964, Smith was first arrested here by federal narcotics agents as he arrived on a bus from New York. According to testimony during his trial, agents were tipped that a man named "Smitty" and a companion would be arriving at a specific time at the bus station and would be carrying a packet of heroin.

Smith later appealed his conviction for heroin possession, to which he was sentenced to one to three years in prison, on the grounds that the tip did not contain sufficient information to support his warrantless arrest. In a major decision written by then-U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Warren E. Burger, the circuit court upheld Smith's conviction on a 2-to-1 vote.