BERLIN — Tips from concerned citizens are being credited for multiple significant drug and weapons arrests in separate incidents this week, reinforcing the importance of the adage “if you see something, say something.”
Around 11:30 a.m. last Thursday, Berlin Police responded to the Bay Terrace Apartments on Bay Street in response to a concerned citizen’s tip regarding suspicious drug activity in the parking lot. Officers arrived and observed a 1998 Buick Park Avenue in the parking lot which appeared to be engaged in illegal activity.
As the officers approached the vehicle, the suspects attempted to walk away, but two were detained. The driver, identified as Richard Tye Mumford, Jr., 19, of Bishopville, was allegedly emanating the odor of marijuana from his person. The odor of marijuana was also detected in the passenger area of the vehicle.
A search of Mumford revealed several packets of heroin, cash and call phone. A search of the vehicle revealed additional heroin packets, more cash and three more cell phones. In addition, a loaded .38 caliber handgun was located under the driver’s seat. During the investigation, a large caliber bullet hole was discovered in front of the driver’s compartment.
The vehicle was impounded for further investigation. Seized from the vehicle was the .38 caliber handgun, .38 caliber bullets, four cell phones, $470 in cash and over 60 packets of heroin. Mumford was charged with possession and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a regulated firearm in the commission of a drug-related crime and multiple other weapons-related counts. The incident is still under investigation by the Berlin Police Department and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Enforcement Team.
About nine hours later, Berlin Police made three more significant weapons busts after getting another tip from a concerned citizen. Around 8:30 p.m. last Thursday, the Maryland State Police received a call regarding a possibly intoxicated driver traveling north on Route 113 approaching the town of Berlin. According to the citizen report, the vehicle was reportedly all over the roadway and was unable to keep a consistent speed, varying from 40 miles per hour to 55 mph while traveling north on Route 113.
A Berlin Police officer observed the suspect vehicle, a gold Nissan Altima with Virginia registration, in the area of Route 113 and Branch Street. The Berlin officer conducted a traffic stop, and as the vehicle was slowing to pull over, the occupants were observed making furtive movements within the vehicle, including making movements toward the center console.
When the vehicle stopped, the officer made contact with the occupants, including the driver, identified as Wesly Vargas, 18; the front seat passenger, Qualil Rivera, 18, and the rear passenger, Deontae Rogers, 18, all of Norfolk. The odor of burnt marijuana was detected in the vehicle and a probably cause search was conducted.
During the search, several partially smoked marijuana cigarettes were discovered, along with a quantity of unsmoked marijuana. During a search of the glove compartment, two handguns were located along with two extended magazines. The first was a .40 caliber Glock that was next to a 22-round magazine loaded with 20 rounds of .40 caliber bullets.
The second weapon discovered was a .38 caliber Ruger LCP with a serial number that appeared to be scratched off. Berlin Police also located a box of .38 caliber ammunition behind the driver’s seat. A wanted check found that the Glock had been reported stolen in Portsmouth, Va. Due to the damage to the serial number on the Ruger, the owner was not immediately able to be identified.
Each of the suspects was arrested and charged with transporting a handgun in a vehicle, obliterating a firearm serial number, possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a regulated firearm while under the age of 21. Each was taken before a District Court Commissioner and each was ordered to be held on a $25,000 bond. The case remains under investigation by the Berlin Police Department.