At the afternoon hearing in U.S. District Court, more than 50 members of the extended Edmond family packed the large room. There were so many present, an entire section of the courtroom was given over to family members. In addition, about a hundred friends and neighbors overflowed into hallways. Edmond's grandmother, Bernice Perry, the family matriarch, sat in the front row. But the audience was focused on the members of the Edmond family who weren't with them -- Rayful Edmond III, his mother, three sisters, two brothers, two brothers-in-law, a cousin and an aunt, all of whom were arrested over the weekend and charged with operating what law enforcement officials described as the city's largest cocaine distribution network. When U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson said all the suspects would be held without bond, there was an audible gasp. The portrait of Edmond drawn from a 45-page affidavit unsealed yesterday in court and interviews with high-ranking law enforcement officials and sources who have investigated Edmond for years is of a savvy 24-year-old who was able to use family ties to build an organization of more than 150 people, control it and escape arrest for years. Along the way, these officials say, Edmond grew to almost legendary status on the city's streets, inspiring intense loyalty among those who worked for him, in turn rewarding their efforts lavishly with money and even expensive cars. But, authorities say, Edmond's business was a deadly one, linked to more than 30 homicides in the District in the past year. "He never touched the money. Mostly he rode around in his Blazer and talked on the phone," said a federal law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the nearly two-year investigation that led to Edmond's arrest on Saturday and the arrest of 16 other people through the weekend. "He went to clubs to party and flew to Los Angeles to purchase drugs, spending lots of money on Rodeo Drive," the expensive shopping district in Beverly Hills, according to the source. "He arranged the drug purchases, but he never handled it himself. He left most of that to family members and trusted associates," the source said. Numerous law enforcement sources say that Edmond's family was linked to the oldtime drugs and numbers rings that operated in the District in the 1950s and 1960s. They say he learned the business from his relatives at an early age, counting money for their crime operations. These sources say Edmond used what he learned to organize neighborhood gangs, first of youths who lived around his grandmother's house in the 400 block of M Street NE, where he grew up. The grandmother was not charged. Later he consolidated his group with other neighborhood gangs to become the leader of the largest gang in the city, according to D.C. police sources. As crime figures who had controlled drugs in the city were arrested or got out of the business, Edmond moved into those voids, according to a federal law enforcement source. Edmond's gang, centered in the Trinidad/Orleans Place neighborhood off Florida Avenue NE, emerged as a major cocaine network in late 1985 and early 1986, according to law enforcement sources. They said it was about that time that he joined forces with Tony Lewis, who allegedly had been a top lieutenant in the cocaine distribution organization of Cornell M. Jones. Before his arrest in 1985, Jones controlled drug trafficking at Hanover Place, which was then the center of the city's cocaine trade. About three years ago, according to the affidavit in support of the arrest warrants for Edmond and members of his alleged operation, Edmond's father, Rayful Edmond Jr., helped him obtain cocaine in New York. At that time, the affidavit alleges, Edmond distributed the drugs through his cousin, John Munford, who was raised with him. Later in 1986, Edmond's organization had taken control of what they would later call "The Strip," the area around Morton and Orleans places NE. Helping him distribute cocaine were his half-brother Emmanuel W. (Mangie) Sutton Jr., his sister Bernice Hillman McGraw, and his brother-in-law Jerry R. Millington, the affidavit said. Other members of the organization, according to the affidavit, were Harry (Whitey) Sullivan and James Antonio Jones, who with Millington served as "enforcers" whose primary purpose was to carry weapons to shoot any rival dealers who tried to invade the Edmond group's turf. Headquarters for the operation were Edmond's grandmother's house on M Street, according to the affidavit, and it served as a delivery point for both drugs and cash. Drugs also were stored in a house in the 3000 block of Sherman Avenue NW, and that location also was used to package drugs for the street sales. All of the people working in the Sherman Avenue house were family members, according to the affidavit, including Edmond's aunt Armaretta Perry, his sister Bernice McGraw, her husband David McGraw, and another brother, Melvin Stewart. As Edmond's alleged cocaine empire grew, he began to utilize other houses and apartments to store and process the drugs. First it was an apartment in Crystal City, which the organization first rented in October 1986. In November 1987, the operation spread to Maryland when Edmond's sister, Rachell Edmond, and her husband, Jerry Millington, allegedly began to store and process drugs in their Maryland apartment. Four months later, the operation allegedly added a fifth location at the Suitland apartment of Edmond's sister and brother-in-law Raynice and Jeffrey L. Thompson. In May 1988, a third sister, Bernice Hillman McGraw and her husband David McGraw allegedly took over the processing for the Thompsons. Most of the drugs were destined for "The Strip" along Orleans Place NE, which was becoming one of the city's major open-air cocaine and crack markets, according to the affidavit. In 1986, Edmond also began to acquire expensive cars, first a 1987 Jaguar, then a 1987 Porsche and a 1988 Range Rover, and for each he had a member of his organization make the purchase, according to the affidavit. The affidavit doesn't say exactly when Edmond's organization began dealing with the Crips, a major drug gang based in Los Angeles, but it details a trip by Edmond and six others to Los Angeles in January 1988 where the group ran up a $2,358 tab at the Stouffers Concourse Hotel and Edmond paid the bill in cash. Six weeks later, Edmond led another group to Los Angeles where they stayed at the same hotel. Again, Edmond paid the $3,000 bill in cash, at least half of which was in $20 bills, according to the affidavit. On both trips, Edmond allegedly was met by a man named Melvin Butler, and on the second trip Edmond stayed at Butler's apartment in Wilmington, Calif. In the period between the two trips, Butler told a Los Angeles deputy sheriff that he had set up a deal for the delivery of 200 kilograms to Edmond, and that he had arranged for another man, Steven White, to deliver the drug to Washington and then return with the remainder of the money owed. Butler and White have been charged in warrants but had not been arrested last night. The same month, Edmond's alleged California suppliers came here to visit, and while in town the two men and Edmond spent $50,000 in cash in various stores here. The trips to Los Angeles for drugs became regular and frequent, sometimes made by Edmond but more often made by couriers who delivered "several million dollars in cash," according to the affidavit. The money was usually packed in suitcases, which sometimes were so heavy that the couriers could barely lift them, sources said. Not all of the organization's efforts to purchase drugs in California were successful, according to the affidavit. In April 1988, an alleged Los Angeles drug dealer who was trying to buy 200 kilograms of cocaine for the Edmond group unwittingly picked an undercover deputy sheriff to deal with. Officials obtained a search warrant and seized $1,945,820 from the Los Angeles man's home. A short time later, the dealer contacted the same undercover officer and explained that his money had been seized by authorities but that he still needed 200 kilograms of cocaine for the Edmond group. Early in May, undercover officers delivered 200 kilograms to the Los Angeles drug dealer, who paid $1 million for it and delivered it to alleged members of Edmond's drug gang, who were promptly arrested. The officers also seized $1.17 million in cash. Law enforcement officers here were also moving in on the operation, though the affidavit doesn't indicate their efforts had a major effect. On Feb. 5, 1988, D.C. police officer searched the M Street NE house and seized about a half-pound of cocaine, more than $27,000 in cash, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and ammunition. Stewart, Edmond's aunt Amraretta Perry, and Harry Sullivan were arrested as a result of the raid. Two weeks later, D.C. police officers searched 656 Orleans Place NE, which a member of the Edmond gang had allegedly been selling cocaine, and seized 100 packets of crack and $1,726 in cash. Keith E. Cooper and two juveniles were arrested. A June 8, 1988 raid at another apartment in the Buchanan House where Tony Lewis lived yielded about $12,000 in cash, scales a money counter and a .45-caliber pistol. As the alleged Edmond organization grew, other dealers started to seriously challenge the Edmond organization's control of certain drug markets. As early as July 1987 Edmond allegedly argued with Gregory Cain about Cain's attempts to take over Edmond's territory along Orleans Place. According to the affidavit, Edmond told Cain to sell dope elsewhere, and when he refused, Edmond gave James Antonio Jones a pistol and "directed" him to shoot Cain. Cain was shot seven times, but was not killed. By early 1988, a rival drug dealer named Brandon Terrell was challenging Edmond's control of the drug markets in the Trinidad/Orleans Place neighborhoods. According to the affidavit, Terrell and Edmond argued inside the Chapter III nightclub on June 23, and afterward Edmond ordered one of his lieutenants, Columbus (Little Nut) Daniels, to shoot Terrell, who died at the scene. The killing of Terrell triggered a bloody turf battle between the two gangs, which brought increased attention by authorities, and in August the warring factions met in a school yard near Howard University and agreed to a truce, the affidavit said. It was shattered on Oct. 4, 1988, when James Antonio Jones and Jerry Millington shot and killed rival drug dealers Gregory Cain and Ronald Curry as they sat in a car in the 800 block of K Street NE. During the same time officials were moving in on Edmond, having obtained court permission for a wiretap of a telephone at the M Street NE headquarters in August 1988. But after a few weeks, Edmond apparently learned about the electronic surveillance and the lines abruptly went dead, sources said. Edmond allegedly told associates that he was getting out of the drug business and considering going to college, sources said. By December, the organization was back in business, arranging to receive a 19.5-kilogram shipment of cocaine at the Stouffer Hotel in Arlington. According to the affidavit, David McGraw got the cocaine from James Mathis, and both were arrested. They both have subsequently pleaded guilty to possession with intent more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and are pending sentence. But Edmond and others in his organization began to sell their assets, and Edmond put $50,000 worth of furniture in storage. When he was arrested Saturday night at his girlfriend's house, he told officers he knew they were coming.