24 Black Guerilla Family Gang Associates Including
APR 16 -- Baltimore, Maryland – A culmination of a two day enforcement operation which began on April 15, 2009, by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office, resulted in the execution of 13 Federal Search and Seizure Warrants and the arrest of 20 individuals announced Ava A. Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Washington Division along with Carl J. Kotowski, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office, Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, Gary D. Maynard, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and Frederick H. Bealefeld III, Commissioner, Baltimore City Police Department. This investigation involved drug trafficking inside and outside of Maryland Prisons. Officials from the Maryland Department of Corrections also searched a total of 16 cells inside institutions across the state. A majority of those arrested today are members of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) which is by far the most organized prison gang within the State of Maryland Prison System.
"This is the first time that DEA Baltimore provided real time inside intelligence information to the Maryland Department of Corrections” stated SAC Ava A. Cooper-Davis. Investigators were also able to identify a group of four corrupt Correctional Employees during this investigation. Two of these employees are alleged to be BGF members. “Our joint effort resulted in the seizure of drugs and various contraband by DOC officials”, stated Cooper-Davis.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “More than 100 law enforcement officers helped to execute thirteen federal search warrants, seize evidence from sixteen prison cells, and arrest suspects associated with the Black Guerilla Family gang. An intensive investigation that included wiretaps on contraband prison cell phones resulted in allegations that BGF leaders run the gang while incarcerated in state prisons”.
According to the indictment and a search warrant affidavit unsealed, the defendants, 16 men and 8 women, were members or associates of the BGF, whose members are active in prisons throughout the United States, including in Maryland. According to the indictment, BGF is active in numerous prison facilities in Maryland, including North Branch Correctional Institution, Western Correctional Institution, Eastern Correctional Institution, Roxbury Correctional Institution, Maryland Correctional Institution – Jessup, Maryland Correctional Institution – Hagerstown, Baltimore City Correctional Center, and the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore.
Use of Corrections Employees
According to the indictment and search warrant affidavit, BGF members and associates recruited employees of prison facilities, including Asia Burrus, Musheerah Habeebullah, Takevia Smith, and Terry Robe, to assist them by smuggling drugs and other contraband into prisons, often in exchange for money or other compensation. Burrus and Habeebullah are employed as corrections officers at Metropolitan Transition Center and Maryland Correctional Institution – Hagerstown, respectively. Court documents indicate that Robe was until recently employed as a corrections officer at the Metropolitan Transition Center but was fired after she was caught attempting to smuggle a cellular phone into MTC for Eric Brown. Court documents indicate that Smith was until recently a kitchen employee at Metropolitan Transition Center but resigned after becoming concerned that she was suspected of smuggling contraband to inmates.
This investigation identified the hierarchy of BGF members within the State of Maryland Prison System. Through this identification process, DEA and the Maryland Department of Corrections Intelligence Unit, were able to target individuals who were involved in all facets of crime on behalf of the BGF.
The indictment alleges that BGF members distributed heroin and “ecstasy” to customers in the Baltimore area. The indictment further alleges that BGF members smuggled heroin, ecstasy, tobacco and other contraband – including cellular telephones – to BGF members in prison, who in turn distributed the contraband to other inmates. According to the indictment and a search warrant affidavit unsealed today, BGF used several different methods to smuggle contraband into prisons, including using couriers who carry the items in body cavities or secrete the contraband in hidden compartments in their shoes, which are then switched with the inmates’ shoes during visits. Court documents indicate that BGF members also smuggled drugs into prisons by hiding the drugs inside of smuggled cellular telephones. According to the search warrant affidavit, BGF members at Metropolitan Transition Center also smuggled in food and liquor, including champagne, vodka, and seafood.
Use of Corrections Employees
According to the indictment and search warrant affidavit, BGF members and associates recruited employees of prison facilities, including Asia Burrus, Musheerah Habeebullah, Takevia Smith, and Terry Robe, to assist them by smuggling drugs and other contraband into prisons, often in exchange for money or other compensation. Burrus and Habeebullah are employed as corrections officers at Metropolitan Transition Center and Maryland Correctional Institution – Jessup, respectively. Court documents indicate that Robe was until recently employed as a corrections officer at the Metropolitan Transition Center but was fired after she was caught attempting to smuggle a cellular phone into MTC for Eric Brown. Court documents indicate that Smith was until recently a kitchen employee at Metropolitan Transition Center but resigned after becoming concerned that she was suspected of smuggling contraband to inmates.
The indictment and search warrant affidavit allege that BGF members used violence and threats of violence to coerce prisoners to pay protection money to BGF. According to the search warrant affidavit, BGF members would supply the extorted inmate with a credit card number of a prepaid credit card, sometimes referred to as a "Green Dot" card, and would direct the inmate to have family members or friends place money onto the card when periodically directed to do so by BGF. The credit card would then be held by a BGF-affiliated corrections officer or by BGF members on the street. If the inmate did not agree to pay for the "protection," then he or she would be targeted for violent crimes while in prison. Court documents also indicate that “Green Dot” cards were often used by BGF members as currency, in lieu of paper money, during the sale of illegal drugs and other contraband within prisons.
Acts of Violence
According to the indictment, BGF members used contraband cellular telephones in prison facilities to notify one another about gang members who were arrested or incarcerated; to discuss police interactions with gang members; and to share with one another the identities of individuals who may be cooperating with law enforcement and to propose actions to be taken against those individuals. According to the indictment and search warrant affidavit, BGF members also used contraband cellular telephones to place “hits” on suspected informants and others who interfered with BGF operations, and BGF members committed or ordered acts of violence to further the gang’s activities, including robberies of drug dealers, and assaults against rival gang members and individuals suspected of cooperating with law enforcement. Specifically, the indictment alleges that on March 13, 2009, Randolph Edison, Roosevelt Drummond and Zachary Norman committed an armed robbery of a drug dealer.
During the operations yesterday and today, agents and officers searched 13 locations in the Baltimore area, and officials with the Division of Corrections Security Operations and the DPSCS Internal Investigative Unit searched 16 prison cells in six facilities across the state of Maryland.
Each of the 24 defendants is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The defendants in the Eric Brown indictment face a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment on the drug conspiracy charge. Randolph Edison, Roosevelt Drummond and Zachary Norman also face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to rob a drug dealer and a maximum of life in prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and a crime of violence. The defendants in the Kevin Glasscho indictment face a maximum sentence of life for drug conspiracy. Initial appearances for five defendants were held yesterday. Four defendants were detained and three of those are scheduled to have detention hearings on Monday. Nelson Robinson, age 45, of Baltimore was arrested on a criminal complaint as part of this operation and faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
During this investigation, DEA Agents and Task Force Officers comprised of Detectives from the Baltimore City Police Department, Violent Crime Impact Division, learned that the BGF in Maryland primarily earned money through drug (heroin, cocaine and marijuana) trafficking. A myriad of investigative techniques, to include wiretaps on contraband prison cell phones, undercover officers, confidential sources, surveillance and other techniques were used to expose this violent organization.
Agents seized a total of 676 grams of raw heroin, 4 guns, 4 vehicles and 14 weapons (13 homemade knives, 1 street knife).
The following defendants are charged in the indictments:
Each of the 24 defendants is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
Mr. Rosenstein praised Secretary Gary D. Maynard and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski and the Drug Enforcement Administration; Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III and the Baltimore City Police Department; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy and her office, especially Assistant State’s Attorneys Antonio Gioia, Melissa Copeland and Rebecca Cox, for their work in the investigation and prosecution of this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case. Mr. Rosenstein also thanked the Baltimore County Police Department and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation for their assistance in this case.
Mr. Rosenstein also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Weinstein, James T. Wallner and Clinton Fuchs, who are prosecuting the case.