Pubdate: Wed, 16 June 1999
Source: London Free Press (Canada)
Copyright: 1999 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Roxanne Beaubien


24 People Face More Than 90 Charges In Latest Undercover Drug Probe

The days of hard-core drugs being sold only in London's centre are gone,
said investigators, announcing results of a four-month undercover operation
targeting crack dealers.

"We had very little difficulty buying this on the street," Det. Supt. Dave
Lucio, head of the London police criminal investigation division, said

"(The dealers) were meeting our officers all over the city."

The joint probe by London police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police netted
more than $50,000 in crack and powder cocaine.

Twenty-four people are facing more than 90 charges.

The result is expected to be a temporary lull in the amount of crack cocaine
on London streets, Lucio said.

But "it certainly won't turn off the tap," he said at a news conference.

Hard-core drug dealers have spread throughout the city since a 1994
crackdown on drug houses in the Dundas and Glebe streets area.

That's making these types of investigations expensive for police, said Insp.
Garry Gravelle, head of the London RCMP detachment.

"More and more it's become necessary to join forces," he said.

Those facing charges -- they include men and women between the ages of 17
and 64 -- are accused of being suppliers who sell to street-level dealers.

The roundup of suspects began last Thursday.

Ten Londoners and one Toronto man have been arrested.

Provincewide warrants are out for 13 people and three people are still under
police investigation.

Among those arrested, Leando Magnus Rose of London faces four counts of
trafficking and three counts of  possession of the proceeds of crime. The
33-year-old Fanshawe Park Road resident also faces one count of conspiracy
to commit an indictable offence.

Gerrick Anthony Lewis, 26, of Toronto, also faces four counts of
trafficking, plus four counts of possession of proceeds of crime.

Dealers are "changing the way they do business" in reaction to raids on the
traditional crack houses, Lucio said.

While marijuana is the most abundant drug in London, crack is the most
prevalent of the hard-core street drugs, he said.

In numerous buys, the 20 undercover officers involved in the sting bought
about 214 grams of crack cocaine worth about $43,000 and 43 grams of powder
cocaine valued at about $8,600.

They also bought about $680 worth of cannabis oil.

Top-level suppliers -- those who bring the drugs into the city -- were
targeted in a joint London police-OPP operation in 1996.  That investigation
raked in about $75,000 worth of crack and resulted in charges against 30 people.

London's first crack-related criminal charges were laid in 1991.

The highly addictive drug, called rock on the street, is made by mixing
soda, water and powder cocaine and heating it until it forms a hard, white

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