The slaying of five persons Friday night in a Landover apartment, some of whom police have identified as Jamaican, is the latest incident of violence associated with out-of-town drug dealers who have swept up and down the East Coast and descended on the Washington area, law enforcement sources said yesterday.

Police were searching yesterday for three suspects seen leaving the area after four men and one woman were shot fatally in the head and chest and left in different rooms of the garden apartment across from Landover Mall. The victims, who police think were shot with .38-caliber handguns and semiautomatic weapons, were still unidentified last night.

Prince George's County police said they had no motive for the slayings.

One of the few clues left behind were papers linking one of the men to an address in New York City. People also received sketchy information from a woman who survived the slaughter and confidential police informants indicating some or all of the victims were Jamaicans who were at least indirectly involved in drug trafficking, police sources said.

The slayings were five of seven committed within an 11-hour period in the county and 14 in the last 23 days. Last year Prince George's had a record 96 homicides, more than a third of which police believe were drug-related. County Executive Parris Glendening last week proposed a $6 million program to beef up police activity against drugs.

The Landover slayings "fit the bill" of violent drug activity involving Jamaicans, said William D. West, an Immigration and Naturalization Service senior special agent and coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which covers Maryland, Virginia and the District.

"It fits the modus operandi of the Jamaican narcotics dealers. It's the same pattern over and over again," West said, pointing to the similarities between the Landover shootings and the execution-style, drug-related slaying of five persons in an apartment in Baltimore's Pimlico neighborhood in July 1986.

The Jamaican drug dealers are known for execution-style slayings of groups of men and women in which automatic or semiautomatic weapons are used. Survivors seldom cooperate with police, law enforcement authorities said.

Jamaican drug dealers have been linked to killings nationwide since the mid-1980s, including several in Prince George's and the District.

In the latest incident, county police were called to the Village in the Woods apartments across from Landover Mall about 8 p.m., after the woman who survived the shooting rampage somehow got out of the apartment and knocked on a neighbor's door, blood dripping from a bullet wound in her neck, police said.

The neighbor called police, and the woman told officers first that the suspects might still be in the apartment at 2320 Brightseat Rd. Once the woman arrived at Prince George's Hospital Center, police said, she said that other shooting victims were in the apartment.

"She has not been terribly cooperative," said Officer Carol Landrum, a county police spokeswoman.

Two police sources said the woman, who was listed in serious but stable condition after undergoing surgery twice since Friday night, has given detectives different stories about what happened and has identified herself with different names.

The victims, who ranged from about 18 to 30 years old, had no photo identifications on them, police said. One man had a New York traffic ticket in his pocket along with an airline ticket and a claim ticket for a local dry cleaners in his pants pockets, police sources said. But the names on the three pieces of paper were all different, they said.

"We're not sure who he is, who the {hospitalized} woman is or who any of them are for certain," one homicide investigator said.

Police said they found no weapons or large amounts of money in the apartment, but said they seized a small amount of cocaine and marijuana.

The shootings Friday night occurred several blocks from the Glenarden Apartments, which have been the scene of open sales of cocaine, crack and PCP and have had numerous street shootings since last spring, according to police. One section has been labeled "crack alley" by police because of the ready availability of the cocaine derivative.

Some areas of Landover, located in the west central part of the county just inside the Capital Beltway, have been plagued by open drug sales and related violence for several years.

But the Village in the Woods apartments, where Friday's multiple slaying occurred, is the home of a higher income population that has been spared the almost nightly shootings that have rocked the lower blocks of Brightseat Road.

Police and neighbors said three women had moved into the third-floor, two-bedroom apartment in early December. Police said the apartment was decorated with what appeared to be fairly new wall-to-wall carpeting and furniture, a sign that the apartment probably was not used as either a "crack" house or a point of distribution for local street sales.

Investigators found supplies for infants scattered around the apartment, but no baby. An uneaten pizza remained on a table inside a delivery box, investigators said.

The lease was in the name of a woman, police said, but she reportedly was out of town Friday and yesterday.

Neighbors, all of whom declined to give their names because they feared for their safety, said a lot of people visited the apartment, most of them men. "There was a lot of traffic in and out," one neighbor said, "but we never heard them or talked to them."

Another neighbor said that the apartment complex had a visible problem with open drug sales several years ago but that the sales ended after the apartment's management hired its own security personel to patrol the grounds. "I'm very uneasy," said the woman, who added that she had lived there 14 years. "I'm thinking about moving out. I'll start looking next week."

Law enforcement authorities yesterday noted some similarities between the Brightseat Road slayings and other Jamaican drug-related slayings.

Victims and assailants frequently are young, heavily armed men who are illegal aliens and live like nomads, according to the sources.

The killings often result from territorial disputes or rival dealers' attempts to steal drugs or money.

Staff writers Victoria Churchville, Lynne Duke and Jeffrey Yorke contributed to this report.


Jan. 2: Darryl Anthony Booker, 26, was shot as he got out of a car at 11 Cindy Lane in Capitol Heights. Police said shots came from a crowd of men standing nearby.

Jan. 8: Laura Renee Bantzel, 20, of Suitland was found strangled and beaten.

Jan. 13: Martin Alan Ford, 29, of Greenbelt died of gunshot wounds he received Jan. 7. He was found slumped in the front seat of his Ford Bronco in Landover, shot twice in the head. Police think the killing was drug-related.

Jan. 13: Deloyce Peterson, 52, of Bladensburg was found stabbed to death in his apartment.

Jan. 14: Henry Bell Ambers, 43, of Capitol Heights was shot to death after a quarrel apparently over work he had done on another man's car.

Jan. 14: William Richmond Shaffer, 19, of no fixed address, was shot in the chest after a quarrel in the parking lot of the Sussex Street apartments in Landover.

Jan. 18: James Martin Jr., 24, of no fixed address, was found shot to death at the rear of the Eastover Shopping Center in Oxon Hill.

Jan. 22: Four men and one woman were found shot to death in an apartment near the Landover Mall shopping center. Police believe some of the victims were Jamaicans and the deaths were drug-related.

Jan. 23: Marcellus Akins Bowie, 59, a Texaco gas station owner, received multiple gunshot wounds as he walked from his car to a night deposit slot at a Fort Washington bank.

Jan. 23: A 37-year-old Temple Hills man was killed in his home, allegedly by his 16-year-old stepdaughter after a domestic dispute with his wife, the girl's mother.