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SIX ARRESTED IN LANCASTER COCAINE BUST OPERATION INVOLVES NEW TEAM TARGETING CITY'S RENTAL UNITS.

Byline: Greg Botonis Staff Writer

LANCASTER - Nearly $100,000 worth of cocaine, 2 pounds of marijuana and two loaded handguns were seized Thursday morning from two Lancaster apartments in a raid by a newly formed Lancaster sheriff's team that targets residents of rental properties, officials said.

Members of the Lancaster Community Appreciation Project team also arrested six people, including a parolee considered armed and dangerous who has been on the run for months, and another person on parole for narcotics sales.

``It's right at the heart of what we're trying to target,'' said Deputy District Attorney David Berger, who created the LAN-CAP program and is a full-time member of the team. ``We want to make this a safer city and it's through good police work and the cooperation of the community and the city that we can do that.''

Deputies followed up complaints from residents and nearby businesses that there was some type of illegal activity going on at the apartments in the 1300 block of Avenue J-2. Investigators also have had reports of a string of recent burglaries in the area that were traced back to residents, including some staying without the owners' knowledge, Berger said.

The team watched the area for several days before obtaining a search warrant and raiding two apartments about 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

When the deputies entered the homes, they immediately detained all six residents of the two apartments. As they searched the apartments, they found two large bags of pure cocaine powder and a couple of small baggies of rock cocaine. They also found a pound bag of marijuana, another bag containing about a half-pound and several 1/8-ounce bags of marijuana for individual sale, all of which were booked into evidence at the Lancaster sheriff's station, sheriff's officials said.

Investigators said that the cocaine base, because of the large quantity and small baggies found, would be ``stepped on'' before sale. That means that the dealers would mix baking powder with the cocaine and then boil it to form rock cocaine before packaging it.

Two loaded 9 mm handguns were also found in the homes, along with items used in the manufacturing and sale of drugs. Neither of the guns was listed as stolen, but neither was registered to any of the six arrested, Berger said.

Arrested in the raid was Wayne Ratliff, 28, on suspicion of possession of cocaine base for sales, possession of marijuana for sales and possession of narcotics with a firearm, according to a Sheriff's Department release. Ratliff's brother, David, 27, was also arrested on suspicion of possession of cocaine base for sales and violation of parole. Clois McClain, 33, was arrested on suspicion of possession of cocaine base for sales. David Harbin, 35, was arrested on suspicion of giving deputies a false name, being a parolee at large and possession of cocaine base for sales. Arteasha Bailey, 19, was arrested on suspicion of knowingly being in a place where controlled substances were being used. Brenda Nelson, 41, also was arrested on an outstanding warrant for misappropriation of property and possession of narcotic paraphernalia.

Greg Botonis, (661) 267-7802

gregory.botonis(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 26, 2004
Words:525
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