FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
FEBRUARY 21, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CECIL COUNTY DRUG TRAFFICKER CONVICTED BY JURY TRIAL
U.S. Attorney Commends Neighbors Who Reported Drug Dealing
Defendant Faces At Least 20 Years in Federal Prison
BALTIMORE, Maryland - A federal jury today convicted Nigel Humphrey John Baptiste, age 45, of New Castle, Delaware, of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine in the Winding Brook community of Elkton, Maryland, and four counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Andre Lamar Ricks, age 27, previously of the Winding Brook community in Elkton, pled guilty during the trial to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated, “I commend the courage of the citizens of the Winding Brook community who took the initiative to contact law enforcement authorities about drug dealing in their community. As a result of their assistance, and the hard work of investigators on the Cecil County Drug Task Force, Nigel Baptiste and his associates will spend many decades in federal prison."
According to trial testimony, from January 2004 to April 2006 Baptiste, Ricks and other co-defendants distributed cocaine and crack cocaine in Cecil County. Testimony showed that Baptiste supplied multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to Larry Brown, using their cell phones to arrange meetings at locations in Cecil County. Meeting places included one near Brown’s former residence on East Village Drive in Elkton, and a residence in North East where Baptiste rented the basement to store cocaine and conduct drug transactions. In a videotape of a post-arrest interview, Baptiste described a 150 kilo shipment of cocaine that he expected to arrive in coming days. Baptiste’s car was also found to have been modified to contain a remotely operated hidden compartment capable of storing large quantities of cocaine.
Trial testimony showed that the cocaine was eventually converted to crack by the mid-level dealers and street distributors, such as Ricks, and sold on the streets of Winding Brook or delivered to customers in the Elkton area. A crack customer testified at trial that she purchased quantities of crack from Ricks, mostly in $20, $40 , $60 or $100 increments, at least 120 times a year for each of the past three years. Additionally, through intercepted calls on Ricks’ cell phone, investigators learned that Ricks was taking a 9mm Berretta semi-automatic handgun to a meeting in Elkton on October 1, 2005 that had been arranged to resolve a dispute with a rival drug trafficking group. When state troopers approached the car Ricks was in, the car sped away and Ricks threw the handgun from the car. Investigators learned where Ricks had thrown the gun and recovered it early the next morning.
U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has set sentencing for Baptiste on May 4, 2007. He is facing a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years imprisonment and up to life imprisonment without parole. Ricks faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole at his sentencing on April 27, 2007 at 10:00 a.m.
Larry Brown pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine on November 9, 2005. Co-defendants Hassan Damont Hopkins, age 23; Dequan Sibhe Copeland, age 27; Tylon Gamal Estep, age 27; and Lemonte Michael Brown, age 29, all of Elkton also pleaded guilty to drug charges and are awaiting sentencing.
The convictions of the defendants are the culmination of an investigation by the Cecil County Drug Task Force, which is comprised of detectives from the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office, the Wilmington, Delaware field office of the DEA and the Maryland State Police. The investigation was initiated in response to an outcry by citizens asking for police action to eliminate pervasive open air drug trafficking in the Cecil County community of Winding Brook, which is north of Elkton. The investigation began by identifying and targeting local street dealers, including Andre Ricks, and then Ricks’ sources of supply and those used by higher, mid-level dealers, such as defendants Tylon Estep and Dequan Copeland. In October 2005, intercepted calls on three of Estep’s wiretapped cell phones revealed that defendant Larry Brown supplied Estep and that Brown in turn purchased kilo and multi- kilo quantities of cocaine from defendant Nigel Baptiste.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the investigative work performed by the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department, the Maryland State Police, the Elkton Police Department and the Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys John F. Purcell, Jr., and Philip S. Jackson, who are prosecuting the case.