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Articles Posted in Heroin

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money-943782_960_720-300x225The U.S. Attorney’s office recently announced that a 31-year-old Montgomery County man has been arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, distribution of controlled substances and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  A criminal complaint was filed against the defendant on March 4, 2022 and he was arrested on March 7.  The Germantown man was ordered to be held without bail at his detention hearing in the Greenbelt federal courthouse two days after his arrest.  According to the sworn affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the defendant was identified as a suspected narcotics and firearms dealer.  In February of this year the defendant sold guns and drugs to an undercover law enforcement officer three times in Montgomery County.  The sales allegedly included more than 45 grams of crack cocaine, gel caps containing heroin and fentanyl and numerous firearms including multiple ghost guns.  The term ghost gun is used to describe any privately made firearm that does not have a serial number and cannot be individually identified or traced.  These weapons have become a point of focus for law enforcement over the last few years, and will continue to be a major issue for state and federal legislators.

In addition to the three alleged sales in February, the defendant and the undercover law enforcement officer also met a fourth time.  During this meeting the defendant allegedly sold the cop three fully assembled Glock style handguns for a total of $3,000.  The sale was observed by additional law enforcement surveillance units, and memorialized by several calls and text messages.  In addition to the four meetings, the defendant also apparently admitted to the undercover officer that he could not legally purchase a firearm due to a previous felony conviction.  The defendant faces up to 10 years in prison for felon in possession of a firearm and up to 20 years for distribution of controlled substances.  He also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  This federal offense is almost identical to the Maryland state law that prohibits the possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime.  The government is not required to prove that the firearm was actually used or brandished during the drug trafficking crime.  Rather, all that is required is for the government to prove a nexus or connection between the gun and the drugs.  Courts have consistently held that drug dealers possess firearms to protect themselves against theft and robbery, which makes it difficult for the defense to argue that the guns and drugs are not related.  A drug trafficking crime includes all felony drug charges such as possession with intent to distribute, manufacturing and distribution. Despite the use of the term trafficking, there is no requirement that the government prove the defendant was a volume dealer or drug kingpin for this law to apply.

The Blog will continue to follow this case and many other federal gun and drug prosecutions.  We may post a follow up article on this case depending on the outcome so stay tuned.  If you or a loved one has been charged or is being investigated by the ATF, FBI, DEA or any other federal or state law enforcement agency contact Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin is a Maryland criminal defense lawyer who specializes in drug crimes and weapons charges, and is available 7 days a week to explain what defenses may be available in your case.  He handles charges including wear transport or carry of a handgun and illegal possession of a regulated firearm, and practices in all state and federal courts in Maryland.  Benjamin can be reached at 410-207-2598 and is also licensed to practice law in the state of Florida.

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Gun-evidence-box-300x225A 37-year-old man from Baltimore City was recently sentenced to 9 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges.  After serving his sentence, which under federal law does not have the possibility of parole, the defendant will be placed on 3 years of supervised release.  This case is another example of a crime that was originally charged in state court, but eventually picked up and prosecuted by the feds.  There does not appear to be any indication that the defendant was a large-scale dealer or that he had been under investigation by law enforcement, and there were no aggravating factors that made this violation particularly egregious.  On the other hand, the feds have consistently been delivering the message that any felon who possesses a firearm in Baltimore will be subject to federal prosecution, and thus a harsher sentence.  9 years without parole is certainly a harsh sentence for a non-violent offense, but it is hardly a surprising sentence considering the climate in Baltimore right now.

According to the plea agreement the man and several associates were standing on a city sidewalk when a vehicle containing Baltimore Police detectives drove by.  As the BPD patrol unit made a U-turn to approach the group, the defendant apparently walked away from the group in a manner that seemed to indicate he was armed. Police stated the defendant kept his “right arm stiff against his body” as he walked away, which is a common phrase that law enforcement uses when attempting to establish justification for a weapons search.  Detectives then exited their vehicle and began to walk toward the defendant, likely to conduct a pat down for weapons.  The defendant elected not to cooperate with whatever the BPD was attempting to do, and he took off running.  Police stated that the defendant threw a firearm with his right hand while he was running away, and they eventually apprehended him in the area.  Upon placing him under arrest police discovered 42 capsules of heroin, 33 capsules of fentanyl, 29 vials of cocaine and several baggies of marijuana.  They also eventually found the handgun along with an extended magazine that was discarded during the chase.

This case presents an interesting issue regarding the legality of so-called proactive police patrolling in urban areas.  Clearly the officers were not specifically looking for the defendant, and there is no indication they received a tip that the individuals on the sidewalk were armed.  Rather, the police were acting on their own suspicions when they made the decision to approach the defendant.  Had the defendant remained where he was or simply walked away from law enforcement, there may have been an argument that any detention was illegal.  An illegal detention would have triggered a potential motion to suppress the gun and the CDS found on the defendant, but the fact that he fled effectively ended any realistic constitutional challenges to the police conduct.  The law is very clear that a person is not seized by law enforcement if he or she takes off running upon their approach.  Additionally, a person does not have any constitutional standing to challenge the seizure of items that are thrown away or abandoned by a suspect.  Running from police is not illegal by itself, but as soon as this defendant was observed throwing a gun and a magazine there was probable cause to arrest him.  Only then could police lawfully detain the man and search him incident to arrest.  This case played out like many have in the past, and unfortunately there was not much the defense could do but argue for a lower sentence.

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Heroin2-300x180A 28-year-old man from Baltimore recently pleaded guilty in federal court to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Taken by itself, those facts are hardly an anomaly these days, as the feds have shown a proclivity to prosecute street level drug dealers (especially when heroin and fentanyl are involved).  However, the facts surrounding the investigation and eventual arrest are noteworthy.  Law enforcement first were alerted to the defendant’s criminal involvement as a result of a fatal heroin overdose that occurred in Harford County in 2017.  As is the case with many fatal drug overdoses, law enforcement’s first lead came from the cell phone of the deceased.  Police were able to see that the deceased had arranged to meet a person with an alias linked to the defendant in order to effectuate a drug transaction.  The deal in question took place in a grocery store bathroom in Baltimore City, which is a common practice to assure there is no video surveillance.

Law enforcement then began tracking the defendant’s movements, and observed him making an alleged drug transaction in a gas station bathroom.  The surveillance led to a search warrant, which was ultimately conducted on the defendant’s home and vehicle about one month after the fatal overdose.  Police were also able to obtain permission from a judge to install a GPS tracking device on the defendant’s vehicle, another common law enforcement tactic.  During execution of the warrant law enforcement recovered a firearm, $12k in cash, 82 grams of cocaine, 55 grams of heroin and 7 grams of fentanyl.  Officers also seized a cell phone with the same number that the deceased was texting prior to the overdose.  It wasn’t until two years later that a federal grand jury actually indicted the defendant, and now two years after that the case is finally on its way to a resolution.  The defendant and the government have agreed to a sentence between 8 and 12 years, and the defendant will learn his fate in March of 2022.  Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in this investigation, including the DEA, Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Anne Arundel County Police, Baltimore County Police and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.  The defendant has a host of prior offenses and is on probation in Baltimore City for a gun charge.  The Blog will follow this case and potentially post again after the defendant is sentenced.

The defendant will receive a stiff federal sentence that is not parole eligible, and could possibly face additional state time for his violation of probation, but he avoided potential prosecution for involuntary manslaughter under Maryland criminal law §2.207.  Prosecutors in jurisdictions throughout the state have been filing manslaughter charges against defendants alleged to have sold CDS (typically heroin fentanyl mix) to the victim of a fatal overdose.  While the manslaughter charge carries a lower maximum penalty than the actual distribution (20 vs. 10 years), it can increase the overall sentencing guidelines, and drastically influence the State’s offer and the judge’s sentence.  If you or a loved one has been charged with any type of drug offense including possession with intent to distribute, firearm possession in a drug trafficking crime or manslaughter, call Maryland criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin specializes in drug offenses and gun crimes, and is available 7 days a week at 410-207-2598.  He has extensive experience in all Maryland jurisdictions, and is a skilled federal drug offense lawyer for cases being prosecuted in the Baltimore or Greenbelt federal courts.

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heroin3-300x169This week in the Baltimore City federal courthouse a 40-year-old Salisbury man pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin using the dark web.  According to facts presented in the plea agreement the defendant was an active interstate drug distributor on the infamous dark web, which is a part of the internet designed to conceal the identity and location of users through specialized software programs.  However, once an individual becomes a suspect in a criminal operation law enforcement officers can then access the web and pose as potential co-conspirators, or in this case buyers.  In this particular investigation it appears Homeland Security had an agent pose as a buyer, and other law enforcement agencies in and around Maryland joined forces to build a case.

Per the plea agreement the defendant admitted to distributing heroin throughout the country from his Salisbury apartment and storage unit on the dark web beginning in 2018.  During the summer of 2018 an undercover federal agent made two separate purchases of heroin from the defendant via the dark web using bitcoin.  The next day after each sale, law enforcement followed the defendant as he proceeded to mail packages from post offices in Salisbury and Ocean City.  The packages were seized and opened after search warrants were obtained, and both contained heroin.  The defendant continued to conduct heroin sales over the dark web, but his username was inactive for 3 months at the end of 2018.  It turned out that the defendant was incarcerated on unrelated charges in Worcester County during this time.  Less than a week after his release the defendant’s dark web profile again became active.  Following more package seizures and other incriminating evidence, law enforcement obtained a search warrant of the defendant’s home and storage unit in the fall of 2019.  Upon execution of the search warrant, police recovered approximately 77 grams of heroin, 41 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of ecstasy (MDMA), 33 grams of meth, 3 pounds of marijuana, cutting agents, scales, drug paraphernalia, $13,796 in cash and a .40 caliber handgun that was stolen from a Federal Air Marshal.  Law enforcement also recovered body armor, mailing materials and electronics such as a laptop and several phones.  A forensic search of one of the phones revealed a digital wallet containing over $100,000 in bitcoin.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the defendant entered into an agreement where the defendant will serve 5 years of incarceration if the federal judge accepts the plea at sentencing in February.  This agreement or “c plea” is akin to a binding ABA sentencing agreement in state court.  The defendant has a relatively minor record in Maryland that includes convictions for misdemeanor assault 2nd degree in Wicomico County and misdemeanor malicious destruction of property in Worcester County.  It is unclear whether he has prior convictions out of state.  The 2nd degree assault conviction would prohibit the defendant from owning or possessing a firearm, though it is unclear whether the defendant was charged with illegal firearm possession.  The plea agreement may have contemplated this factor, along with other facts and circumstances such as the amount of drugs recovered and the overall scale of the criminal operation.

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1398073_security_fence_4-300x200Last week two Maryland defendants were sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison for drug distribution charges that were far from run of the mill. The first case originated in Annapolis where the defendant, a 25-year old Howard County man, met up with a female buyer and sold her heroin. The next day the female buyer was found unresponsive in her Bowie apartment, and was pronounced dead on the scene after Prince George’s County paramedics were unable to revive her. Law enforcement arrived and recovered a dose of heroin, and in an effort to locate the suspected dealer took possession of the female’s cell phone. Sure enough the defendant sent a text just a short time later offering to sell her more heroin. Police officers responded to the text posing as the female victim, and made arrangements for another drug deal. Police conducted a traffic stop of the defendant’s vehicle near the pre-arranged meeting place for the drug transaction, and observed white powder on his pants as he stepped out of the car. Police also observed white powder and a small folded piece of paper on the floor by the passenger seat where the defendant had been sitting. There were three other individuals in the car including two minor children. Search in incident to arrest yielded the cell phone that had been used to set up the drug deals.

Rather that challenge the legality of the search and seizure, the defendant elected to admit to the allegations and plead guilty. There could have been a variety of legal arguments aimed at suppressing the physical evidence recovered from the defendant and the vehicle, but it is unlikely the defendant would have prevailed. The defendant did not have standing to challenge the seizure of the victim’s cell phone, and it is not illegal for the police to pose as a drug buyer and set up a totally fictitious deal. It is not clear exactly how the traffic stop transpired, but police likely had probable cause to arrest the defendant after observing the white powder on his pants, and/ or confirming that he was indeed the person who agreed to sell heroin to the victim. Once police recovered the defendant’s cell phone getting a signed warrant to search the phone would have been a foregone conclusion. In addition to pleading guilty to distribution of heroin, the plea also required the defendant to admit that a person died as a result of his role in selling the heroin. While the defendant did not plea to an enhanced crime for the sale of narcotics resulting in an overdose, it was made part of the permanent court record and undoubtedly factored in to sentencing considerations. The presiding judge at the Greenbelt federal courthouse would have also considered the defendant was not a first offender, as he has a robbery conviction from Baltimore County, as well as several other contacts with law enforcement.

Just one day after the defendant in the heroin case was learned his fate, another convicted drug dealer was sentenced 11 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. This case also spanned multiple jurisdictions, as police officers were called to investigate an armed robbery in Baltimore County. Upon identifying a suspect for the robbery, police executed a search warrant in Glen Burnie, and recovered large amounts of cocaine, cash, marijuana and two guns. This case did not end with a plea bargain, but rather went all the way to trial, where a federal jury convicted the defendant after 5 days of testimony. The original robbery and subsequent search occurred in 2016, but the defendant fled prior to his first trial date in November of 2018. He was a fugitive for more than a year before being captured and brought to trial this past spring.

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money-943782_960_720-300x225The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland recently announced the results of several federal law enforcement efforts aimed at targeting the most violent neighborhoods in Baltimore City. In the last month alone law enforcement closed investigations that resulted in the arrest of 90 defendants on serious federal crimes such as drug distribution and possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a crime. Multiple law enforcement agencies including the FBI, ATF, DEA, Homeland Security and the Baltimore Police Department participated in the investigations, which in addition to the 90 arrests yielded 51 firearms, almost $1 million in cash and kilogram amounts of drugs. The controlled substances seized were fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and marijuana, which are the most common street drugs of the times.

According to this release federal law enforcement separated their investigations by neighborhoods or territories. Police targeted a certain section of the city that includes a couple blocks or street corners, which they likely identified by following the buyers. Once they had the area in their sights law enforcement set up shop and began gathering evidence they ultimately needed to bring to federal prosecutors and then the grand jury. In this past release the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed the investigations into four separate locations across the city. The first investigation in East Baltimore produced 25 arrests in total, with 10 being charged with illegal firearm possession by a prohibited person. A person can be prohibited for a number of reasons including prior felony convictions or even prior misdemeanor convictions. A separate West Baltimore investigation produced six drug distribution and firearm arrests, including one charge for possession of an illegal fully automatic firearm. In Southwest Baltimore another 38 defendants were charged for their involvement in a drug trafficking ring that had ties to Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Finally, a Northwest Baltimore investigation produced 21 arrests for distribution of fentanyl and crack cocaine, and possession of firearms.

Each of these individual investigations falls under the umbrella initiative called Project Safe Neighborhoods or PSN, which is the federal government’s key crime reduction component in Baltimore. In the first half of 2019 the feds indicted 215 defendants compared to a total of 246 in the entire year of 2018. The U.S. Attorney’s Office anticipates this trend will continue and that they will charge 50% more defendants with violent crimes this year than in 2018. The top law enforcement officer in Maryland has stated repeatedly that reducing violent crime in Baltimore is priority number one, and if so the work will have to continue for years. The governor and the even the president have not been shy about their feelings about Baltimore, and this pressure is definitely felt by the law enforcement community in the city. The only way to appease the politicians and the public is to make arrests and secure convictions, but sometimes those that are not responsible for the violence become scapegoats for the actions of others.

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Heroin2-300x180Maryland law enforcement agencies have devoted millions of dollars to combat the state heroin epidemic but despite their efforts most agencies are still playing catch up when it comes to the infamous synthetic opioid known as fentanyl. The powerful substance is not a new commodity, though its popularity has skyrocketed over the last couple of years. Fentanyl is now so common that many street level narcotics dealers don’t even realize they’re selling it to customers looking to buy heroin. The availability of fentanyl is based on the most elementary economic principle of supply and demand. It began with the rebirth of heroin, which arguably was created by the nationwide crackdown of prescription narcotic abuse spearheaded by the DEA. Heroin became a viable replacement for the thousands of people that were once hooked on oxycodone and similar substances, but whom were not able to find a constant supply due to restrictions on pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and pain clinics.

While heroin became easier to obtain than powerful prescription narcotics, it is not a substance that’s native to the United States, and is still not readily available in large quantities. To fill the void, drug dealers began to realize that mixing small amounts of synthetic fentanyl would increase or keep the potency of their product while decreasing the amount of heroin necessary. In some cases synthetic fentanyl has completely replaced heroin on the streets, as most users cannot even tell the difference. Add to the equation that synthetic fentanyl is exponentially stronger than heroin, thus requiring smaller amounts per street level capsule, and the fact that there is an unlimited supply from illegal laboratories overseas, and it’s easy to see how fentanyl became an epidemic almost overnight. Demand is as high as ever and the supply keeps coming in from all corners of the globe, a reality that is not lost on law enforcement agencies in Maryland.

Police departments around have ramped up their efforts to take down fentanyl suppliers, and this past week the state police announced the arrest of a major supplier on the Eastern Shore. A 37-year old Salisbury man was taken into custody and charged with several CDS violations including possession of a large amount, manufacturing and possession with intent to distribute narcotics. After tracking the man for a few months police ultimately executed search warrants that yielded close to one pound of an especially potent fentanyl compound. Police also recovered marijuana and drug paraphernalia they say is consistent with distribution. The large amount charges were unaffected by the justice reinvestment act that became law in October, and still carry mandatory prison sentences upon conviction. The defendant is still being held at the Wicomico County Detention Center, and has a preliminary hearing set for early January in the district court. Prosecutors will no doubt try to make an example of this defendant, thus making a competent defense attorney extremely important.

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heroinbust-300x198The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York recently announced indictments of ten individuals for their roles in an East Coast heroin trafficking ring. Three of the defendants hail from Annapolis, which officials allege is where the heroin began the journey to its final destination in Schenectady, NY. After arriving in this suburb of Albany various New York based co-conspirators allegedly packaged the drugs and sold them in the Plattsburgh area, just a few hours drive from the Canadian border. The defendants vary in age, but each is under 35, and one was actually a state corrections officer until his arrest back in June. The three Maryland based defendants are all under the age of 30, with the youngest being just 19. This teenage defendant now faces between 5 and 40 years in federal prison, with the 5-year number representing the minimum mandatory sentence that must be imposed should he be convicted.

The other local co-conspirators include a 24-year old male who is facing a drug trafficking sentence of 10 years to life, and a 28-year old female who is facing up to 20 years for conspiracy to distribute narcotics. The 24-year old defendant is no stranger to the Maryland state judicial system, as he pled guilty to CDS possession with intent to distribute in Anne Arundel County back in 2012. His probation was violated shortly thereafter and an 18-month jail sentence followed. In addition to the federal indictment, the 24-year old is also set for an August trial date in Annapolis for numerous drug charges stemming from two separate state court cases. These charges are all drug related, and include distribution of narcotics and CDS possession of a large amount. The other Annapolis based defendants have relatively minor criminal records, which include two cases where each charged the other for assault. Prosecutors will likely end up dropping these cases, as the pair could assert their mutual 5th Amendment rights and choose not to testify. Regardless of what happens in these assault cases the defendants clearly have bigger issues to deal with up north.

The announcement by the Northern District of New York that a large heroin trafficking ring originated right here in Anne Arundel County came just as the governor announced 2018 allotments for the emergency opioid abuse funds. Last year the governor pledged $50 million to battle the record breaking heroin and fentanyl overdoses, and the money will be dispersed over the course of 5 years to various state and local agencies. The majority of the cash next year is going to inpatient treatment programs, naloxone supplies, public awareness platforms for opioid abuse and law enforcement efforts to dismantle drug trafficking rings. Baltimore City has been hit especially hard by drug overdoses, and the state has responded by allocating $2 million for a city crisis center. The Blog will continue to monitor this federal case and other state cases related to drug trafficking. We anticipate more drug busts making news headlines in the coming months as law enforcement agencies will be eager to show the governor the funding is being put to good use. However, it remains to be seen whether the emergency funding will begin to reverse the overdose numbers that are sadly trending in the wrong direction.

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heroin3-300x169Police departments, lawmakers and even the governor have made combatting drug overdoses a major point of emphasis over the last few years. Many law enforcement agencies are training their officers in overdose recognition and equipping them with overdose prevention drugs. Police are now responding to the scene of a possible overdose with the mindset that their first call of duty could be saving a life rather than making an arrest. Lawmakers are tying to do their part as well by creating legislation aimed at punishing drug dealers whose product causes a death, and attempting to protect those who offer aid to overdose victims. The governor has always taken a hardline stance against heroin, highlighted by his recent declaration that opioid use is now in an official state of emergency warranting an additional $50 million in resources. Numerous citizen based community organizations have also joined forces with the government in this battle, but despite their best efforts the overdose numbers are heading in the wrong direction.

According to data recently released by the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene the number of statewide deadly overdoses increased by a whopping 66% from 2015 to 2016. This puts last year’s total number of deaths at 2,089, which is the highest ever and triple the amount from 2010. About one third of these deaths occurred in Baltimore City, with the majority of the others occurring in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties. Prince George’s County and Montgomery County rounded out the top five of this unfortunate statistic. Only two jurisdictions, Cecil County and St. Mary’s County reported declines in the number of deadly overdoses from 2015 to 2016.

The majority of victims were found with multiple drugs in their system, and not surprisingly the most common drugs present in the deceased were heroin and fentanyl. These two opioids have been public enemy number one in both urban and rural areas in the region for the last couple of years. The rise of fentanyl has been well documented but despite the awareness there are no signs that it even remotely close to being controlled. This deadly synthetic opioid, which is often mixed with or sold as heroin, contributed to over 1,100 Maryland deaths in 2016, up from 350 in 2015.   Alcohol, which continues to get a pass in due to its deep roots in American culture, contributed to around 30% of the deaths and cocaine to around a quarter. Prescription opioids such as morphine and oxycodone that were once a leading cause of overdoses were just the fourth leading cause last year in the state.

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pills_money-300x199The Maryland State Police recently announced the indictments of 18 defendants in a large drug conspiracy that spanned numerous counties and stretched into Delaware. The investigation began last fall state when police investigators received information that a male suspect was involved in a drug trafficking ring operating out of Queen Anne’s County. Narcotics detectives had reason to believe that this particular suspect, who lived in Kent County, assisted in the importation and distribution of large amounts of opioids including oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, methadone and heroin throughout the state. Further investigation also revealed this suspect’s alleged involvement with another Kent County man in cocaine trafficking. Both male suspects were self employed, which further peaked the interests of law enforcement officers about the possibility of ongoing money laundering. As the investigation progressed, police officers from numerous jurisdictions including Talbot County and Anne Arundel County coordinated their efforts to develop more suspects in the case. Delaware State Police, Natural Resources Police, and local departments from Chestertown and Centreville also assisted, and the culmination of this investigation occurred this past week with the announcement of 18 arrests from indictments in the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County.

The two original suspects now face over 50 charges apiece, including multiple counts for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and CDS. According to the State Police report these two defendants allegedly conspired to import over 3.5 pounds of cocaine and 5000 pills, including 4000 of oxycodone and 50 pills each of morphine and fentanyl in just one 6-week period. The street value of these drugs is estimated at $130,000. Oddly, neither defendant faces any felony charges on these indictments; Maryland law classifies all conspiracy crimes as common law misdemeanors. But despite being misdemeanors, many of these counts carry 20-year maximum penalties, which state prosecutors will undoubtedly use as leverage to during plea negotiations. The extraordinarily high bails, one being $250,000 and the other being $350,000 also reflect the severity of these charges. There does not appear to be any physical evidence directly attributed to the two main defendants at this time (hence the conspiracy charges), though law enforcement did execute numerous search and seizure warrants and recovered a great deal of contraband. All told, there were 14 firearms, hundreds of pills, crack cocaine, marijuana and almost $100,000 dollars in U.S. currency recovered. Police also seized 15 vehicles that may be kept and then auctioned under state forfeiture laws.

The Blog will continue to follow this case as it progresses through the circuit court. It will be interesting to see whether there are any suppression issues raised in pre-trial proceedings, as it is unclear how police received all of their information. In any large-scale criminal investigation police often receive much of their intelligence from confidential informants, though CI’s alone will not suffice if the kingpins are careful. Prior coordinated law enforcement operations on the Eastern Shore have benefitted from the use of wiretap warrants, which could have sealed the fate of the defendants in this case.

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