Rayful Edmond III, once the District's most notorious drug dealer and a man who kept on dealing even after he went to federal prison for life, emerged yesterday in a new role: snitch. Federal authorities revealed that his latest criminal dealings were for the benefit of the government -- and his mother.

U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. announced yesterday that Edmond delivered five up-and-coming drug traffickers to the FBI and the D.C. police, pleaded guilty to even more drug counts and agreed to forfeit $200,000 of the profits he racked up during his prison-cell dealing.

Prosecutors said that they believe Edmond, 31, finally has shown remorse for his drug-dealing ways and that they agreed to ask a federal judge to reduce the sentence of his mother, Constance "Bootsie" Perry, 56, as a reward for her son's cooperation. Perry, whose tape-recorded remarks about the scale of Edmond's empire were a key to her son's 1989 conviction, is serving a 14-year prison term for her participation in his drug gang.

Edmond agreed to help the government if federal authorities would use his cooperation as a reason to ask a judge to reduce his mother's sentence. Holder said that authorities had agreed to the deal but that her status is up to the judge who sentenced her.

The immediate results of Edmond's work were the arrests in Washington of 11 people, five of whom authorities described as the biggest drug dealers in town now. Two other local men were arrested and charged in a related case in Pennsylvania.

After announcing the new arrests and indictments yesterday, Holder and W. Lane Crocker, the agent in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, sharply criticized the federal Bureau of Prisons, blaming its lax management for allowing international drug deals to be orchestrated from prison.

"It is intolerable that criminals who were incarcerated for the precise purpose of protecting our citizens have instead been able to use prison facilities as their home offices for creating and commanding massive narcotics enterprises that have left nothing in their wake but death and destruction on the streets of our cities," Holder said.

"Today's events demonstrate the shocking fact that inmates in federal correctional institutions have been able to participate in international cocaine conspiracies from within prison walls," Holder said.

Dan Dunne, a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons, said that the investigation would not have been a success had it not been for the agency's help and that officials there believe that Edmond's activities "are isolated cases."

The possibility that Edmond might be cooperating with authorities first surfaced nearly two years ago, when six people, including Edmond's girlfriend, were indicted after being caught on wiretaps of telephone calls as Edmond introduced cocaine buyers and sellers.

At the time, officials said they would not comment on whether Edmond had moved over to the government side or whether they were negotiating to gain his cooperation.

James W. Rudasill Jr., a lawyer who represented one of the people indicted then, had asserted in a hearing in U.S. District Court that he believed Edmond was cooperating with authorities.

"I knew," Rudasill said yesterday. "But {Edmond's} persona is so strong: Rayful is the ultimate stand-up guy. That persona just sucks people in. Rayful Edmond would be the last person anyone would think would be a snitch."

Rudasill also said he believes the people arrested in this sweep will have little success saying they were ensnared illegally.

He said he expects that prosecutors will use the "chain conspiracy" argument, saying that the defendants conspired with each other to buy and sell drugs, even though Edmond was a key player in all of the transactions.

"It's very remote," he said of their chances of successfully arguing that Edmond, as an agent of the government, entrapped them.

Authorities said that Edmond actually switched sides 18 months ago. And Holder said he hopes the move will help to deflate the Edmond lore -- of fancy cars, gorgeous women and basketball stars -- that still circulates in the neighborhoods near his old base of operations, in the 400 block of M Street NE.

"Rayful Edmond is no hero," the city's top prosecutor said. "He is simply a thug with a wasted past and a hopeless future," because he will never walk out of prison a free man.

Edmond is serving a sentence of life without parole for his 1989 conviction for running the largest, most organized drug ring the District has ever seen. Knowing that he would never leave prison prompted Edmond to seek a deal for his mother, prosecutors said. But the final decision of whether her son's cooperation will gain her a break lies with U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey Jr., who presided over her trial. No hearing date has been set.

Authorities would not say yesterday where Edmond and Perry are now being held.

Perry is one of several family members, including Edmond's two sisters, a half brother, an aunt and a brother-in-law, who were convicted in two lengthy trials. Perry's remarks to a government informant were among the most stunning and crucial evidence presented.

She described Edmond's rise in the drug business, from a little boy who held cash for her as she sold illegal pills to a drug kingpin. "And, like, when he started out," Perry said on the recording, "it was just like, you know, he was doing hand to hand . . . on the street corner . . . and then he . . . just got too big. He just up and went out on his own."

Edmond's devotion to his mother also is legendary. One of the first things he did as he made his first big money was to buy her a condominium in Prince George's County. Later, drug proceeds allegedly were used for a house in Kettering and tens of thousands of dollars in improvements to it.

He kept sending money to her after they both went away to prison -- money he made by brokering international drug deals that authorities say they believe resulted in more cocaine hitting Washington's streets than Edmond's organization had sold in the 1980s.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven J. Roman said he believes Edmond finally regrets what he has done to his home town by selling cocaine and helping others sell it. Asked during a news conference yesterday if Edmond has any remorse, Roman said, "Yes, quite a bit at this stage." He said that if the new cases go to trial, Edmond probably will be called to testify.

According to the scenario revealed by prosecutors, Edmond took advantage of every privilege while at the Lewisburg, Pa., federal prison, using the phones to arrange introductions of Washington drug dealers to Colombian suppliers. He often made nearly 60 calls in less than five hours. His contacts on the outside set up conference calls for him to Colombia, and he used the prison mails and visiting hours to work out the details of the meetings of the various parties. He even mediated disputes, persuading the Colombians not to kill Washington drug dealers when they fell behind in their payments for cocaine.

Edmond pleaded guilty yesterday in Williamsport, Pa., to conspiracy and agreed to forfeit to the government $200,000 he received in commissions on multi-kilogram drug deals he brokered from his prison cell between Washington dealers and major suppliers from a large Colombian drug cartel from October 1992 to July 1994.

In cooperating, Edmond kept doing what he had been doing from his cell at the maximum-security Lewisburg prison. During the past 18 months, he contacted five alleged major drug dealers from the Washington area and arranged for them to meet an undercover agent, D.C. police Detective Jesus C. Gonzales, who posed as a representative of the Trujillo-Blanco family in Colombia.

Dunne said the Bureau of Prisons monitors inmates' communications with the outside world.

"We do monitor inmates' phone calls, correspondence and visits to the extent we are legally permitted to do so in order to detect threats to the institution and other illegal activities," he said.

According to court papers, the five men -- Marcus Haynes, 25, Adolph Jackson, 24, Lecount Jackson, 42, Darrell Coles, 33, and Rodney Murphy, 26 -- were fooled because most of them had had past dealings with the Colombian family thanks to Edmond. Each of the men allegedly visited Edmond at the Lewisburg penitentiary and later was introduced by phone to Gonzales. In July, authorities said, the men and their associates met with Gonzales in Newark to work out the details of their purchase of 60 kilograms of cocaine for $1 million, with $375,000 to be paid upon initial delivery.

Beginning about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, the five were arrested as the deliveries were being made. They, along with six associates, were taken into custody. The six others are: Jimmy J. Robinson, 26, Derrick L. Hopkins, 26, Richard Deane, 27, Anthony A. Smithers, 27, Johnny Cherry, 28, and Christopher L. Johnson, 28.

Through their attorneys, all 11 were arraigned yesterday and pleaded not guilty to the charges. They are being held without bond, pending hearings beginning today and continuing on Monday.

Two other Washington men, Michael A. Jackson, who is a prisoner at Lorton Correctional Complex, and James M. Corbin Jr., were indicted in Pennsylvania on Wednesday and will be taken there to face the charges. CAPTION: RAYFUL EDMOND III CAPTION: At the suspects' arraignment in U.S. District Court are Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Edwards, left; U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Attridge; and defendants (front row) Richard Deane, Adolph Jackson and Anthony A. Smithers, and (back row) Lecount Jackson and Derrick L. Hopkins.