Hundreds of Northeast Washington residents marched into the Paradise Manor apartment complex yesterday and vowed to force out drug dealers by expanding the Muslim patrols that have halted drug sales in the adjacent complex.

The march followed a rally at the Mayfair Mansions apartments, where tenants and community leaders thanked members of the Nation of Islam for operating the patrols and vowed to end drug problems in the two complexes. The patrols began April 18 at the invitation of residents, many of whom have been terrorized by more than two years of drug trafficking and violence in the area, described by police as one of the city's largest drug markets.

Paradise Manor's co-owner, Marilyn Melkonian, said the group's patrols will expand to that complex "as soon as possible," possibly "within days." But Melkonian and the Nation of Islam leader in Washington, Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad, cautioned that more planning is required, notably on the logistics of the new patrols.

Despite overcast and drizzle, Mayfair Mansion's central courtyard took on a celebratory air as an African folk dance troupe, the Woodson High School marching band and a Nation of Islam drill team performed after the speeches. Police maintained a low-key presence with two cruisers at the edge of the crowd.

The police department yesterday disputed allegations made earlier in the week by Muhammad that police officers are "directly involved" in drug trafficking. In a news release, the department noted that "Nation of Islam representatives have . . . indicated that they have no facts to support these vague allegations."

Such charges, it said, are "unfair to the dedicated members of this department." The statement cited statistics of its antidrug operations in Mayfair Mansions and Paradise Manor, and added, "We are . . . vigilant in seeking out those engaged in misconduct within our ranks."

After local ministers opened the rally with prayers, Muhammad was summoned to the stage with a welcome resembling that for a political candidate. Surrounded by bodyguards in conservative suits and bow ties, Muhammad forged through the cheering crowd while the band played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

D.C. Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) praised "the outstanding community services provided by the Nation of Islam {in} assisting us in waging a war on drugs."

Muhammad launched a call "to our Christian brothers and sisters, to our Hebrew brothers and sisters: We need your help." He said that the Nation of Islam mosque will begin offering training for volunteer patrollers next week.

Muhammad criticized the Washington news media for having emphasized what he called "one of our failures," the beating of an allegedly armed man and attacks on two television news people on the first day of the patrols. "You did not see the hundreds of confrontations" in which Nation of Islam patrols removed drug dealers "in a brotherly manner" from the buildings and courtyards of the Mayfair complex.

Saying that the patrols are becoming known by a new name, Muhammad chanted a line borrowed from the pop song "Ghostbusters."

"Got a little crack in your neighborhood? Who you gonna call?" asked Muhammad.

"Dopebusters!" responded the enthusiastic crowd.

Amid the celebration, some Mayfair Mansions tenants were cautious in assessing the patrols. "We've got to wait and see how it goes," said Adelaide Simms, 18. She said that although the patrols' effects were "pretty good so far," it remained unclear whether a permanent change in the community can be made.

Tom Harman, the owner of a 7-Eleven store adjacent to Mayfair Mansions, said the halt of drug sales in the complex had been reflected in a drop in his own business figures. Routinely, he explained, visitors seeking to buy cocaine would park at his store; one person would go in the store to make a small purchase while a companion crossed the road to Mayfair Mansions to buy drugs.

Harman said his sales had fallen 15 to 20 percent compared with the same period last year, adding, "I never realized how much of our business was linked" to the drug trade. Harman welcomed the quiet that the patrols have brought to Mayfair Mansions, saying that his business had become "like running a bar in Dodge City."

After the rally, the crowd streamed down Jay Street to a parking lot at the center of Paradise Manor, many chanting "Reclaim the neighborhood; come on out!"

Crawford, addressing the group over a bullhorn, declared, "We are here sending a loud warning to drug dealers: either reform or get out of our community."

Tenant leaders from Paradise Manor welcomed the planned expansion of the patrols to their neighborhood. Nell Roberts, representing the complex's tenants association, promised the Nation of Islam "the same support you enjoy" in Mayfair.

Most Paradise Manor residents interviewed during the 10 days of patrols at Mayfair Mansions have said they wanted the Muslims to work in their community, too. But last night, an hour after the marchers had drifted away, a group of young women residents at Paradise Manor disagreed over whether the patrols were a good idea.

"I think it's great. They should have come earlier," said one of the women, who asked that their names not be published. But others expressed fears of violence between the Muslims and armed drug dealers.

Even though similar fears at Mayfair Mansions had not materialized during 10 days of patrols, one woman said, "We still don't know what's going to happen over a longer {period of} time."