Brian Lee Tribble, who was acquitted in 1987 of supplying the cocaine that led to the death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, surrendered to federal authorities on drug charges yesterday, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration said.
Tribble narrowly escaped from federal agents and police during an undercover drug operation Thursday night at a hotel in Prince George's County, authorities said. Coincidentally, and unbeknownst to the federal agents who planned it, the hotel was the same one where jurors in the drug and perjury trial of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry were staying. The jurors, who were unaware of the activity in the parking lot of the Sheraton Hotel, subsequently were moved to another location.
Tribble, who was charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, was being held without bond at the Baltimore city jail after surrendering shortly before noon at the U.S. Marshal Service office in Baltimore, a spokesman for the marshals said.
He was accompanied by his attorney, Thomas C. Morrow of Baltimore.
"He indicated that he wanted to surrender publicly and in the presence of counsel," Morrow said.
Tribble was acquitted in 1987 of charges that he supplied the cocaine that he, Bias and other college friends used on June 19, 1986. Bias, who died of cocaine intoxication, was celebrating being picked in the National Basketball Association draft by the Boston Celtics.
A month after the 1987 trial ended, Tribble told a television interviewer that he was trying to put his life back together and he cautioned others against the use of cocaine.
Cocaine "can put you through more pain than you can ever imagine," Tribble said in the interview.
DEA Special Agent Peter Gruden said that Tribble had agreed with undercover agents last week to purchase four kilograms of cocaine. One kilogram of cocaine was delivered Thursday night to alleged Tribble accomplice Daniel D. Thomas, 29, "per Tribble's instructions," Gruden said.
Tribble, watching the transaction from another part of the hotel parking lot, fled when federal agents moved to arrest Thomas, Gruden said. He led authorities on a brief chase before abandoning his car and escaping on foot, police said. Thomas, of Upper Marlboro, was arrested at the scene on charges of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.
The case began earlier in the week when DEA agents arrested a Bahamian citizen who arrived on a flight from Miami at Dulles Airport with four kilograms of cocaine, law enforcement sources said. The Bahamian agreed to cooperate with federal authorities, telling them the delivery was intended for Tribble, sources said.