HURLOCK A 29-year-old Fruitland man was arrested by Hurlock police Wednesday afternoon in what local law enforcement agencies said at a Friday press conference was the largest drug bust ever in Dorchester County.
Hurlock police seized about 39 pounds of marijuana from the backseat of a Ford Expedition driven by Toriano Mendell Parker of 106 North Division St., after he was stopped for speeding on state Route 392 at 1:08 p.m. Wednesday.
A joint investigation by drug task forces in Dorchester, Wicomico and Caroline counties resulted in Parker being charged with multiple drug charges in Dorchester and Wicomico counties.
"This demonstrates how the cooperation between local law enforcement agencies can help solve a case," said Hurlock police Chief William Lamphere.
In Dorchester County, Parker is charged with being a drug kingpin, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute large amounts, importing five or more kilograms of marijuana to the state of Maryland, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana. He is being held at the Dorchester County Detention Center on $1 million bond. His bond was changed from no bond at a bail review hearing Thursday.
In Wicomico County, Parker is charged with six counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, two counts of possession of crack cocaine, two counts of having a firearm while drug trafficking, two counts of distributing drugs with a firearm, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, manufacturing large amounts of crack cocaine and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute large amounts. His bond in Wicomico County is $1 million.
Law enforcement personnel from Dorchester and Wicomico counties held a press conference Friday at the Hurlock Mayor and Council Office to give details of the drug bust.
Hurlock police Lt. Stanley Noland said he stopped Parker for going 53 mph in a 30 mph speed zone on westbound Route 392 near Charles Street. Noland said the Expedition Parker was driving was a rental, but Parker was not authorized to drive the vehicle, according to the rental agreement.
During the stop, Noland said he noticed two cardboard boxes in the backseat.
"I became suspicious when he changed his story about where he was going," Noland said. "He was starting to get nervous, so I called for back-up and a K-9 scan."
Hurlock police Pfc. Kelly Hitty arrived and had K-9 Jack scan the vehicle for drugs, Noland said. The K-9 detected a scent of drugs in the vehicle and a search found a one-pound bag of marijuana in the back of the vehicle, Noland said.
Noland said Parker was arrested and the cardboard boxes were transported back to police headquarters. When the boxes were opened, police found them filled with marijuana. Noland said one box contained a block of marijuana, weighing 20 pounds and 8 ounces. He said the second box contained another block of marijuana, weighing 17 pounds and 14.6 ounces.
"In my 30 years in law enforcement, Jack is the most phenomenal K-9 to do narcotics work," Noland said.
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis also praised Jack and his handler officer Hitty. "The K-9 played a major role in this case, and we may have not gotten the arrest without the assistance of Jack and officer Hitty," Lewis said.
Noland said the total street value of the marijuana found in the vehicle is $166,000. Other items seized from the vehicle were two cell phones, documents and $1,980 in cash.
Noland said an investigation by police determined the boxes were shipped to Maryland from California. He said United States Postal Service tracking numbers that were associated with the boxes were found in the vehicle. He said the boxes ship to addresses were in Federalsburg and Parker's Fruitland address.
During the investigation, Hurlock police contacted drug task forces in Dorchester, Wicomico and Caroline counties. Noland said within a few hours of the arrest, the Wicomico County Drug Task Force executed two search and seizure warrants at a storage facility behind the Centre at Salisbury on Naylor Mill Road as part of the drug bust investigation. The task force seized about 260 grams of crack cocaine, digital scales, mixing agents and two handguns from the storage facility that allegedly belonged to Parker.
"This is a prime example of what happens when we work together to get criminals off the streets," Lewis said. "Everyone worked together and the results show it."
Dorchester County Sheriff James Phillips said the drug bust would not have happened without Noland. "Lt. Noland took a very basic function of law enforcement and made a traffic stop; and he had the initiative to expand on it during the stop."
Authorities said the investigation is still ongoing. Noland said police are investigating who sent the marijuana from California, where it was going and possible connections Parker has in the Miami, Fla. area.
Noland said police are using Parker's two cell phones and other documents that were found in the vehicle as roadmaps for the investigation. He said he would not speak about the specifics of the investigation because it is ongoing.