Leader in East Baltimore Drug Gang Gets Long Prison Sentence
May 25 (Baltimore, MD) - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Shawn Johnson, age 41, of Bronx, New York, yesterday to 160 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, as part of a drug gang in the Latrobe Homes area of East Baltimore. Today, Judge Blake sentenced co-defendant Antonio McNeely, age 34, of Baltimore, Maryland, to 136 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute heroin, as part of the same drug organization. The case was one of the largest prosecutions ever pursued in Maryland jointly by local, state and federal agencies.
Sixty four defendants were charged in March 2011 – 24 in federal court and 40 in state court – for dealing drugs at Latrobe Homes in East Baltimore, an area prone to violence and drug activity. The federal indictment alleged that the conspirators obtained heroin and marijuana from suppliers in New York and California, and that violent crimes were committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.
"The Drug Enforcement Administration working in partnership with the Baltimore Police Department dismantled a drug trafficking organization that distributed large amounts of heroin throughout the Latrobe Homes Community,” stated Ava A. Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Washington Division.
“Residents of east Baltimore deserve to live in safe neighborhoods, like all Marylanders,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Wherever criminal gangs bring violence to our street that is where we will direct the resources needed to send them to prison.”
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Ava Cooper-Davis of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III of the Baltimore Police Department; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein.
According to Johnson’s guilty plea, from 2008, to March 2011, Johnson was a major distributor of heroin in the Baltimore metro area. From January 2010 to March 2011, Johnson was also a major distributor of marijuana in the Baltimore area. Johnson frequently collected money from drug buyers near the valet stand at a downtown hotel where Johnson often stayed. Johnson’s source of heroin was in New York City, and he worked closely with his conspirators in Baltimore to sell the drugs.
According to McNeely’s guilty plea, from December 2010, to March 2011, McNeely and Shawn Johnson conspired to distribute heroin in West Baltimore. McNeely ran street level drug shops and oversaw the distribution of heroin and other drugs through these shops. More than five conspirators worked for McNeely’s drug distribution organization by transporting, holding and distributing narcotics, and collecting the proceeds of narcotics sales which were returned to McNeely.
On March 3, 2011, law enforcement learned through intercepted calls that one of McNeely’s drug shops near 2500 Lafayette Avenue in Baltimore was running low on heroin and McNeely agreed to re-supply the shop. Law enforcement agents saw McNeely leave his house in his girlfriend’s car, with his girlfriend, Danielle Bagby, driving. Shortly before they arrived at the drug shop, agents stopped the car. A trained police K-9 alerted for the presence of narcotics in the vehicle and police recovered 300 gelcaps containing a total of approximately 60 grams of heroin from the car’s glove box, in front of where McNeely was sitting. McNeely had over $1,100 in cash in his right front pants pocket. A subsequent search of McNeely’s home recovered a loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, an additional 60 grams of raw heroin, cutting agent, and narcotics packaging material.
During the conspiracy, Johnson conspired with others to sell between one and three kilograms of heroin and between 1,000 and 3,000 kilograms of marijuana, and McNeely conspired to sell between 400 and 700 grams of heroin.
To date, 16 defendants have pleaded guilty to their participation in the drug trafficking conspiracy, including Danielle Bagby, age 25, of Cockeysville, who was sentenced to two years in prison on May 22, 2012. Co-conspirators Dana Bowman, age 39; Donald Wright, age 41; Jeff Gibbs, age 42; and William Hite, age 42, all of Baltimore have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Bowman and Wright were sentenced to 151 months in prison. Hite was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Gibbs is awaiting sentencing. Co-defendants Christopher Wright and Gerrard Mungo are also scheduled to be sentenced this week.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the DEA, Baltimore City Police Department, and the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher M. Mason who assisted in the federal prosecution, and Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorneys Tony Gioia, Miabeth Marosy, Jeanne Canal and Anna Mantegna, who are prosecuting related state cases. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin M. Block, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.