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Press Release

Baltimore Fentanyl Dealer Sentenced to More Than Seven Years in Federal Prison for Distributing More Than 400 Grams of Fentanyl—Enough to Kill 20,000 People

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Defendant Also Possessed Three Firearms Which He Admitted He Used to Facilitate Drug Trafficking

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher today sentenced Joseph Speed, age 28, of Baltimore, Maryland, to seven years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release, after Speed pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl.  Speed admitted that between 400 grams and 1.2 kilograms of fentanyl were reasonably foreseeable to him and in furtherance of the conspiracy to distribute fentanyl.  As little as 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be a lethal dose. 

This case is part of an initiative implemented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland to combat the growing fentanyl overdose crisis in Maryland.  Under this initiative, every arrest involving distribution of fentanyl made by law enforcement in Baltimore is reviewed jointly by the State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore City, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine whether the case will be handled in the state or federal system.  The use of federal resources and statutes, which carry significant terms of imprisonment, will allow the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute those individuals who pose the greatest threat to public safety in distributing lethal doses of fentanyl. 

The guilty plea and sentencing were announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Baltimore City Sheriff John W. Anderson; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner stated, “Joseph Speed was an armed narcotics dealer operating in Baltimore.  He sold fentanyl to people in our community and he carried firearms to further his drug business.  Speed will now serve more than seven years in federal prison, where there is no parole—ever.  Armed drug traffickers are on notice that dealing in fentanyl increases their odds of federal prosecution.”   

According to his guilty plea, Speed was part of a drug organization that sold fentanyl in the Baltimore area.  On May 20, 2019, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Speed’s apartment in Baltimore and recovered approximately 458 grams of fentanyl, a 9mm handgun, $666 in cash, and drug paraphernalia, including cutting agents and gel capsules.  Speed admitted that he used these items to facilitate his drug trafficking, including preparing drugs for resale to customers of the drug organization.

On July 23, 2019, law enforcement performed a traffic stop on Speed’s vehicle in Baltimore County.  A subsequent search of Speed and his vehicle recovered another 9mm handgun, numerous fentanyl gel caps, and $5,345 in cash.

Finally, on May 15, 2020, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Speed’s apartment in Pikesville, Maryland, and recovered a third firearm, a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, as well as a small amount of suspected fentanyl.  

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the DEA, the Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office, the Baltimore County Police Department, and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation and prosecution.  Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason D. Medinger, who prosecuted the case.

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated February 24, 2021

Drug Trafficking