Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced Garnett Gilbert Smith, a/k/a Abdule Jones a/k/a Brian Slack, age 44, of Baltimore, Maryland, today to 25 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Commissioner Anthony W. Batts of the Baltimore Police Department; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein; and Colonel George F. Johnson IV, Superintendent of the Maryland Natural Resources Police.
“Garnett Smith was one of the largest cocaine and heroin dealers to be arrested by the DEA in recent history,” stated Gary Tuggle, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office. “Smith was responsible for the distribution of more than 1,000 kilograms of cocaine during a period of less than two years. Smith will now spend the prime of his life in prison and will not be eligible for parole until he is a senior citizen,” added Tuggle.
According to his plea agreement and court documents, beginning in at least 2009, Smith acquired large quantities of cocaine from sources of supply in California and shipped the drugs for distribution in the Baltimore area. By 2010, he teamed up with codefendants Marc Collins and Michael White who supplied Smith with over 1,000 kilograms of cocaine from California. Shipments of the cocaine were typically in quantities of 60 to 80 kilograms each. The cocaine was often hidden within vehicles loaded on car carriers. Smith sent money for the payment of the drugs back to California in concealed compartments on the car carriers.
Smith directed others in acquiring, transporting and delivering the cocaine, and in laundering the proceeds from the cocaine sales. In Los Angeles, expensive apartments with gated garages were used to store and test the cocaine prior to shipment. The gated entrances provided additional security from potential law enforcement surveillance. New cell phones were used on each trip to further conceal their illegal activities.
When White was arrested on unrelated federal drug charges in July of 2010, Collins replaced White as Smith’s supplier of cocaine until October 2011, when Arkansas state troopers stopped a car carrier loaded with $2,306,745 sent by Smith in Baltimore to be delivered to Collins in California. Between early 2010 and October 2011, at least 18 shipments of cocaine, consisting of between 60 to 80 kilograms per trip, had been made using the car carrier method.
Smith maintained a low profile after the Arkansas authorities seized the money, but by the summer of 2012, Smith again acquired drugs, shipping them to Maryland. Smith used co-defendant Antonio Johnson to ship kilogram quantities of cocaine through the U.S. Postal Service. In late August, Smith and Johnson sent a car to Maryland on a different car carrier. The vehicle was intercepted and four kilograms of heroin were found in a hidden compartment. Authorities made a controlled delivery of the heroin in September. Johnson retrieved the vehicle from the car carrier and delivered it to Smith in Baltimore. Both were arrested. The heroin had a wholesale value of $300,000.
Search warrants were executed at Smith’s residences in Maryland and Studio City, California. Money counters were seized, along with approximately $1.6 million in jewelry, $740,000 and hundreds of shoes. Authorities also seized two Can Am Spyder three wheeled motorcycles and 15 vehicles purchased by Smith, including a 2010 Aston Martin, a 2009 Lamborghini Murcielago, a 2008 Maybach and a Mercedes-Benz CL550, along with real estate and bank accounts worth over a million dollars. Smith paid no taxes, structured cash deposits to bank accounts to avoid financial reporting requirements and placed assets in the names of friends and relatives.
Including the cash seizure in Arkansas, approximately $6.7 million dollars in assets have been seized from Smith.
Marc Tyrone Collins, Michael Lee White and Antonio Lamont Johnson previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the conspiracy. Johnson was sentenced to 156 months in prison. Collins is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6, 2014. No sentencing date is currently scheduled for White.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the DEA Baltimore and Los Angeles Field Offices, Maryland Natural Resources Police, the Baltimore Police Department and the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys James G. Warwick and David Sharfstein, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.