FBI agents recovered $27,000 in cash and claim to have broken up a numbers ring with raids on 16 apartments and houses in the Washington area on Thursday and Friday, a spokesman for the agency reported yesterday.

Federal agents also raided the Upper Marlboro home of the alleged head of the gambling business and confiscated guns and gambling paraphernalia from two apartments on North Capitol Street NW, headquarters of the operation, according to Nick Stames, special agent in charge of the Washington field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The raids came after a six-month investigation into the gambling operation that Stames called "one of the largest in the Washington area." Stames said the operation took in $3 million yearly.

"We're on a constant vigil against nunbers operations," said Stames. "... numbers are so prevalent in Washington all we can attempt to do is neutralize the situation. Numbers in Washington aren't a problem that can be wiped out, they're a condition, something you live with... "

Stames said the raided operation was a daily number business that got its winning number from the results of races at Laurel Raceway.

Joe Dowling, public information officer for the FBI, said bettors could win $5.40 for every dollar wagered on a number although the odds were 998-1 against it. Dowling said the numbers were det ermined from the pari-mutuel results of the last six races at the track.

No arrests were made in the raids.

Stames said the evidence taken in the raids will be presented to a grand jury in an effort to get an indictment against the persons allegedly involved in the operation.