Pubdate: Sat, 10 Apr 2004
Source: Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC)
Copyright: 2004 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Author: Glenn Smith, Staff of The Post and Courier
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


After a six-month investigation that netted nearly $46,000 worth of heroin, 
North Charleston police swept into the beleaguered Union Heights 
neighborhood Friday to round up men accused of pushing the drug on its streets.

Police grabbed two suspected dealers and learned that two more already were 
jailed on other charges. The arrests came just weeks after police charged 
two men who allegedly supplied area dealers with heroin from New York, said 
police spokesman Spencer Pryor.

"One of our 2004 goals is getting drugs and guns off the streets of North 
Charleston," he said. "Today is a testament to how hard we're going to work."

Police began focusing on Union Heights late last year after receiving 
complaints and information from the community about heroin sales in the 
neighborhood, which is bordered by Meeting Street Road and Spruill Avenue.

The densely populated neighborhood is lined with overgrown lots, chain-link 
fences and small houses close to the road. Surrounding the occasional 
well-groomed yard and neat home are tired-looking properties in decay. 
Young men congregate on street corners and cast a wary eye when strangers pass.

In 2003, police responded to 1,789 calls in Union Heights to investigate 
everything from animal complaints and assaults to drug sales and 
disagreements. Of those calls, 330 concerned drugs and suspicious people in 
the neighborhood. Police arrested 49 people there on drug charges last 
year, according to police records.

There also has been violence. In December, two masked men killed a man and 
severely beat his nephew and 78-year-old aunt in a home invasion at an 
Arbutus Avenue house that previously had been raided by police for 
suspected drug activity.

"You have heroin and crack, and the young guys dealing on the corners," 
said Edward Blake, who moved from "The Heights" last year to a nearby 
street to escape the drug activity. "At one time, you couldn't walk down 
the street there."

Narcotics investigators set up surveillance in the neighborhood, and 
undercover officers bought heroin from targeted dealers. The purchases were 
monitored and recorded on audio tapes. In some cases, multiple purchases 
were made from the same person, police said.

As the investigation continued, police identified new targets and made 
contacts that led them to two men said to be the primary suppliers of 
heroin to the area. During the course of the probe, investigators collected 
nearly 153 grams of heroin, police said.

Among those caught in the probe was Robert Lee Broomfield, a 37-year-old 
man facing several heroin-distribution charges. As his neighbors looked on 
Friday morning, he shuffled across the dirt lawn of his Arbutus Avenue 
home, his wrists bound with handcuffs and a police officer at each side.

Two women and a young boy peered from the front door as officers pawed 
through Broomfield's pockets and put him into a waiting cruiser. Tacked 
above the front door was a sign that read "North Charleston Police 
Department has jurisdiction over this property."

"I love you," his cousin Bertha Hamlett shouted to him. "Take care of 

Hamlett said she was sleeping when armed narcotics officers and members of 
a special enforcement unit known as the SPEED team arrived. She said she 
knew nothing about Broomfield's alleged connection to the heroin trade.

"I have no knowledge of that," she said, shaking her head.

That was a little before 10 a.m. Soon, dozens of people stood, walked or 
bicycled in the surrounding blocks. People stared or glared at the police 
cars circling the neighborhood, with some onlookers using cell phones and 
others chatting in groups.

As the 22 officers continued to check homes and street corners, officers 
grew a little concerned that word of their presence was traveling through 
the neighborhood grapevine and alerting those they were after. Word, 
however, didn't travel quickly enough for some.

"I believe we have one of our suspects walking through the park," narcotics 
supervisor Lt. David Cheatle shouted over the police radio. "Does anyone 
have eyes on him?"

That question was answered seconds later as officers swarmed around 
35-year-old Harvey Michael Mack Jr. as he walked by basketball courts at 
the Gethsemani Community Center on Arbutus. Mack, facing four 
heroin-related charges, grimaced when a reporter asked whether he knew 
police had been looking for him.

"I knew," he muttered as officers led him away.

Others facing heroin distribution charges are North Charleston residents 
Oniqua "Marty" Lamar Hamilton, 34; Anthony Lamont Thomas, 38; and Frederick 
Leon Archield Jr., 30, police said. Thomas is jailed on unrelated charges, 
and Hamilton remains at large, Pryor said. Archield,the brother of the man 
who was killed on Arbutus Avenue in December, was sentenced to 15 years in 
prison last month after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 
12-year-old girl who became pregnant as a result of the attack.

The alleged primary suppliers, who face heroin trafficking charges, are 
Desmond Deal, 31, of New York and Andre Craig Jones, 42, of Ladson, police 

Pryor said the investigation is continuing, and police plan to keep close 
watch on Union Heights to stamp out the heroin trade there. He said, 
however, that police need the community's cooperation to make that work.

Several residents said they welcomed the police presence. They said the 
neighborhood is home to many elderly people and hard-working residents who 
take pride in their homes and want to see a difference. Police may need to 
reach out for more help, though.

"It's needed," longtime resident Louis Jefferson said of the police action. 
"But they're going to have to draw people out. A lot of people stay in 
their houses, and they don't come out unless they see something."

Staff writer Adam Ferrell contributed to this report.
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