Baltimore, Maryland – A federal criminal complaint has been filed charging two defendants in connection with a drug distribution conspiracy operating in the Westminster area of Carroll County, Maryland. Approximately 300 law enforcement personnel and agents assisted in the arrest of one defendant and the execution of 14 search warrants. James Samms, age 30, of Westminster, Maryland, was arrested today. Rodney Gaines, a/k/a “Butta,” “Butter,” and “Butters,” age 33, also of Westminster, remains a fugitive. Law enforcement is continuing to search for Gaines. Anyone with information as to Gaines’s whereabouts is asked to call “1-800-CALL-FBI.”
The criminal complaint charges Gaines and Samms for conspiracy and for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, including crack cocaine and fentanyl. The criminal complaint was filed on March 21, 2022 and unsealed today upon the arrest of Samms. Samms is expected to have an initial appearance later today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson.
This case arose from the investigative efforts of the Baltimore OCDETF Strike Force, the Maryland State Police, and the Carroll County Drug & Firearms Trafficking Task Force, comprised of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, the Westminster Police Department, and the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The charges were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Carroll County Sheriff James DeWees; Chief Thomas J. Ledwell of the Westminster Police Department; and Carroll County State’s Attorney Allan Culver.
“Keeping our neighborhoods safe from drug trafficking and violence is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron. “We will continue to work closely with our state and local partners to ensure that criminals who bring drugs and violence to our communities are brought to justice.”
“Our commitment to the reduction of violent crime and fostering safe communities is at the forefront of all we do” said Thomas J. Sobocinski, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “Working with our law enforcement partners, those who traffic drugs, carry guns, and perpetuate violence will continue to be held responsible for their criminal acts.”
“By leveraging the resources between our local, state, and federal partners, the operation conducted today will severely impede the illegal drug trade in Carroll County” said Carroll County Sheriff James DeWees. “I could not be more pleased with the cumulative effort and partnerships of these law enforcement agencies which resulted in these arrests.”
“We appreciate the results of this cooperative effort by our local Carroll County Drug and Firearms Trafficking Task Force comprised of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and Westminster Police Department as well as the Maryland State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Carroll County State’s Attorney Allan J. Culver. “I also want to acknowledge the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services (GOCPYVS) which assisted in funding this project and investigation. GOCPYVS provides grant funding and strategic support to the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network Initiative (MCIN) member sites, like our site in Carroll County, to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations through inter-agency collaboration and data sharing to make Maryland safer. This is a great example of the positive results that MCIN and its partners can help provide.”
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Gaines is believed to be the primary source of supply for crack cocaine in the Carroll County area. The affidavit alleges that since April 2021, investigators have conducted a number of controlled purchases of crack cocaine and fentanyl from Gaines and members of his drug trafficking organization, including Samms. During these controlled-buy operations, Gaines has allegedly been seen in the area and is believed to be watching and managing his associates.
As detailed in the affidavit, law enforcement intercepted communications between Gaines and his associates allegedly related to drug trafficking and violence. Law enforcement also observed alleged drug transactions at locations in Westminster associated with Gaines and Samms, including at residences and stash houses. On several occasions in 2021, law enforcement overheard calls from customers allegedly arranging to purchase drugs from Gaines, who then directed the customer to an address in Westminster, where the affidavit alleges that Samms completed the transaction. As detailed in the affidavit, on January 9, 2022, after intercepting a call from a drug customer to Gaines requesting to purchase a large quantity of narcotics, investigators observed the drug customer arrive at an alleged stash house location. The drug customer entered the location and quickly left. The drug customer was subsequently stopped for a traffic violation by a Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Deputy. Based on the customer’s constant movement in the vehicle and nervous behavior, the customer was asked to exit the vehicle and a K-9 was called to perform a scan of the vehicle. According to the affidavit, the K-9 alerted for the presence of narcotics in the vehicle. A search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of 76.6 grams of suspected cocaine and $756 in cash, which was found in the center console of the vehicle.
As alleged in the affidavit, in January 2022, investigators also intercepted communications between Gaines and another individual, later identified as Raekwon Dorsey, discussing the purchase of firearms. Dorsey allegedly agreed to sell Gaines a .9mm handgun and an MP 40 handgun with a laser. On January 31, 2022, after Dorsey sent Gaines a text message that he was on his way to Westminster to meet Gaines, investigators saw Dorsey leave his home in Pennsylvania in a red pick-up truck. As detailed in the affidavit, a traffic stop was conducted, and the truck was searched, resulting in the recovery of one black Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun and two magazines with five rounds of ammunition, and one black and silver Smith and Wesson SD handgun, and one magazine loaded with fourteen rounds of ammunition. The handguns were found in the bed of the truck. Investigators learned that the black semi-automatic handgun had been reported stolen. As a result of previous felony convictions, Dorsey and Gaines are prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. Dorsey was arrested.
The investigation is continuing.
If convicted, Gaines and Samms each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the conspiracy and for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime. The specific mission of the Baltimore OCDETF Strike Force is to reduce violent, drug-related, and gang crime in the Baltimore area and surrounding region.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI, the Maryland State Police, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, the Westminster Police Department, and the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys LaRai Everett and Brandon Moore, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psnexile and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
# # #