For now, he is John Doe, the name police attach to unidentified victims, dead of a gunshot after a party about 3:30 yesterday morning at an Adelphi apartment complex.

He is an anonymous statistic at a time when crime statistics are looming large in Prince George's County, particularly in neighborhoods inside the Capital Beltway. John Doe's killing was the county's 83rd in 1987, a year of drug-related violence that almost certainly will set a record for homicides in the county, surpassing the 1982 record of 86 killings.

With six weeks to go in the year, the 1987 homicide rate already is a more than 60 percent increase over last year's 52 killings in the county. Police and politicians blame the violence accompanying the county's booming illegal drug trade for the soaring homicide rate, a factor that police cited in John Doe's death and the wounding of a man at the same vacant apartment on Phelps Road.

"The obvious increases are the drug killings, deals that have gone bad or turf wars," said Maj. James Ross, who heads the county's criminal investigations division. But, like most of the officials interviewed, Ross described homicide as "the crime we have the least control over." Some police officials say that much of the violence is a spillover from the District, where 186 homicides, more than double that of Prince George's County, have been committed this year. The District recorded 196 slayings last year. Still, Prince George's County's homicide rate is startling when compared with three homicides so far this year in Arlington, six in Alexandria, 10 in Fairfax and 14 in Montgomery County.

Contributing to the problem is the openness with which drugs are dealt. In years past, drug dealers were more covert, authorities say. In some areas, recently, they have become more brazen, selling from street corners to passing motorists, moving only when threatened by police spotlights or video cameras.

Also, they have gotten tougher. Many of drug dealers carry automatic weapons, police said, and massive retaliation is an intrinsic part of the subculture.

Tim Ayers, a spokesman for Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening, said that the problem is in part geographical.

"The border that we share with the District is mostly low income and, historically, has a been a problem," Ayers said. "But I'm sure that the drug dealers have no idea nor care what county or jurisdiction they are in."

Cpl. Bruce Gentile, a police spokesman, expressed some of the pessimism of most officers: "There just aren't enough police in America to watch every 7-Eleven or convenience store that is held up or stand on every street corner."

In Prince George's, most of the drug-related violence is happening in high-density population areas inside the Beltway, areas attracting buyers from neighboring counties, the District and Northern Virginia, police said.

Although records are not kept for individual police sectors, Ross said, the highest homicide rate appears to be in the 3rd Police District, the Seat Pleasant area, which includes Landover and the drug-plagued Glenarden Apartments. Another hot spot for violence is the Langley Park-Chillum Heights neighborhood along Eastern Avenue and the District line, where police respond almost nightly to calls reporting the sounds of gunfire.

"It's an epidemic in Prince George's County," said Tommie Broadwater Jr., a former state senator who operates the Ebony Inn on Sheriff Road in Fairmont Heights. "Wherever the police go, they {drug dealers} leave. They moved from Kenilworth Avenue and Eastern Avenue on the District side last year when the {D.C.} police put a special trailer with cameras on the corner. They just moved over the hill to Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, and then police moved the trailer. Then they moved to Sheriff Road {in Maryland} in front of my place," Broadwater said.

"I call police, the cruiser comes through, and they {drug dealers} leave," Broadwater said. "As soon as the police leave, they come back. I know it's difficult to control, but it's obvious what's going on."

The police do not think that they can do the job themselves. Officials of the county's 900-member police force have been urging community involvement in fighting crime.

"Society has a vested interest in this fight against crime," said police spokesman Gentile. "It takes community involvement."

Glenarden is one community that has gotten involved. Reacting to seven homicides in six months at the 50-building complex, angry residents packed town hall in the once-peaceful community and called for an end to the violence. While some put pressure on politicians and police, others recorded license plates of cars with out-of-state tags and those of cars parked in front of the Glenarden Apartments.

The violence might have peaked three weeks ago when a county police officer shot and killed a drug suspect at the complex. Since then, said state Sen. Decatur W. Trotter (D-Prince George's), who represents the area, things have gotten better.

"The people up there have indicated to me that there is already a better atmosphere there," Trotter said. "The management is cleaning up the place, helping police put pressure on drug dealers. Residents have told me that there is less drug selling, less drug activity in general. The situation has improved quite a bit."

Trotter credited the improvement to "several different agencies coordinating the effort: the police, the health department, the code enforcement people." Staff writer Veronica T. Jennings contributed to this report.