OCEAN CITY — Continuing a recent trend in the attempt to stem the flow of heroin into Ocean City, resort police officers last week made several arrests at a known open-air drug market in Sussex County.
Some Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers are routinely sworn in as fully-vested law enforcement officers with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office giving OCPD narcotics detectives full powers in the county. Over the last several months, OCPD narcotics detectives have been working with the Criminal Enforcement Team in conducting proactive enforcement targeting individuals obtaining and using heroin and bringing it back into the resort area.
The operation has focused on the Polly Branch Road area in nearby Selbyville, Del. that has long been known as an open-air drug market where individuals obtain heroin and bring it back into Worcester and the resort area. Last week, OCPD officers made a handful of arrests of individuals allegedly purchasing heroin.
Around 3:10 p.m. last Friday, an OCPD officer was working in the Polly Branch Road area in Selbyville in an undercover capacity. According to the officer’s report, he has been involved in plainclothes drug enforcement for 17 years and during that entire time the Polly Branch Road area in Selbyville has been a well-known open air drug market to all law enforcement agencies in both Maryland and Delaware.
Last Friday, the OCPD officer observed a vehicle pull onto Polly Branch Road with Maryland tags he recognized as belonging to a resident identified as Jacob Townsend, 22, of Ocean City. The officer observed Townsend enter the drug market and emerge minutes later. Based on his experience, the officer suspected Townsend had driven to the area to purchase heroin and bring it back to Ocean City.
OCPD officers followed Townsend as he made his way back to Ocean City, eventually pulling him over at 135th Street. Townsend was asked to step out of the vehicle, and when asked where he had been, he reportedly told police he had been at Polly Branch Road but denied ever being on Washington Lane, where a large number of drug deals are transacted. When asked if he had any heroin or paraphernalia in his truck, Townsend reportedly said he did not and consented to a search of his vehicle.
During the subsequent search, a fixed-blade hunting knife was located in the driver’s door map pocket easily accessible for the driver. According to the police reports, the officer knew from experience many drug buyers take weapons with them to Polly Branch Road because of the dangers involved in buying heroin there.
At that point, Townsend was arrested for carrying a concealed deadly weapon. A search of Townsend’s person revealed an uncapped syringe containing a brown liquid concealed in his crotch area. Also found on Townsend were three torn off plastic bag tops which the officer knew from experience were used to package heroin. Based on all of the evidence, Townsend was charged with possession of paraphernalia and carrying a concealed deadly weapon.
Later last Friday, OCPD narcotics detectives working surveillance in the area of Polly Branch Road in Selbyville observed at least 10 suspects enter the known drug dealing area in vehicles or on foot and travel in and out of the area in less than a minute. Around 6:10 p.m., the officers observed a vehicle with Maryland tags with two occupants enter the Polly Branch Road and Washington Avenue area and return less than a minute later.
The officers followed the vehicle first onto Route 54 in Selbyville and eventually through Bishopville on St. Martin’s Neck Road and onto Route 589 near Ocean Pines. The OCPD officers stopped the vehicle at the 7-Eleven store on Route 589.
The officers identified the occupants as Shannon Griffith, 33, of Ocean City, and Christopher Griffith, 32, of Ocean City. When questioned, Shannon Griffith admitted she had a needle in her sweatshirt pocket. Shannon Griffith admitted to police she had driven with Christopher Griffith to the Polly Branch Road area where they had purchased five individual bags of heroin for $30.
Shannon Griffith admitted she had snorted two bags of heroin while they drove back into Maryland. She also told police she gave the three remaining bags of heroin to Christopher Griffith, who allegedly shot them up using her needle and spoon while driving back into Maryland. When asked how Christopher Griffith was able to accomplish that while driving, Shannon Griffith reportedly told the officers he was good at multi-tasking. When Christopher Griffith was questioned, he reportedly gave police a similar account of the events. Based on the evidence and testimony, Shannon Griffith and Christopher Griffith were each charged with possession of heroin.