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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 27, 2020

Baltimore Man Pleads Guilty To Federal Drug Conspiracy Charge

Defendant was Part of an Organization that Distributed Heroin, Fentanyl, Cocaine, and Crack Cocaine in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, Resulting in Many Overdoses, Including the Overdose Death of His Own Father

Baltimore, Maryland – Donte Bennett, a/k/a Tay, age 27, of Baltimore, Maryland pleaded guilty today to participating in a drug conspiracy that operated in and around the Baltimore metropolitan area, distributing heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and crack cocaine in Maryland and surrounding states.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.

“Donte Bennett was part of a supply chain that distributed opioids—including deadly fentanyl—throughout Maryland and in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “Bennett knew that the drugs he sold caused overdoses, but still distributed heroin/fentanyl to his own father—who died as a result.  Drugs—especially opioids—are killing thousands of Marylanders a year.  Federal, state, and local law enforcement are working together to reduce overdose deaths from fentanyl and from all opioids.  Drug traffickers are on notice that dealing in fentanyl increases their odds of federal prosecution and federal time.”

According to his guilty plea, from October 2018 through at least January 2019, Bennett was a street-level distributor in a Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) that distributed heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and crack cocaine in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  The DTO frequently sold over 100 grams of heroin mixed with fentanyl on a daily basis.  Customers of the DTO believed they were purchasing heroin, but the DTO adulterated all heroin it sold with fentanyl.  Bennett and other street-level distributors in the DTO worked in shifts to ensure continuous availability and shared phones they used to communicate with DTO leadership and customers. 

As detailed in the plea agreement, Bennett and his co-conspirators were aware that the drugs they distributed caused overdoses.  In fact, law enforcement overheard Bennett discussing with a member of the organization on one occasion how drug customers were falling asleep or passing out from using the DTO’s drugs.  On November 10, 2018, Bennett sold approximately 7.5 grams of heroin/fentanyl to a drug distributor from Virginia.  The drug distributor then gave a portion of this heroin/fentanyl to a customer, who shared a portion of the heroin/fentanyl with a second individual. The customer and the second individual both overdosed after using the heroin/fentanyl.  They were administered Naloxone and admitted to a local hospital.

Bennett admitted that on November 18, 2018, he gave his father a user-sized quantity of heroin/fentanyl that he obtained from the DTO.  Two days later, Bennett’s father died from an overdose resulting from a mixture of heroin and cocaine.  Later that day, Bennett called a member of the DTO and reported that he believed his father died from the DTO’s drugs.

During the course of his participation in the conspiracy, Bennett distributed more than one kilogram of heroin.

Bennett faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for the drug distribution conspiracy.  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.  U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm has scheduled sentencing January 19, 2020 at 10 a.m.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI, the DEA, the Montgomery County and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the City of Rockville Police Department; the Baltimore County, Howard County, and Montgomery County Police Departments; the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office; the Maryland State Police; the West Virginia State Police; the Virginia State Police; the Warren County (VA) Sheriff’s Department; the Winchester (VA) and Front Royal (VA) Police Departments; and the Frederick County and Howard County State’s Attorney’s Offices.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew DellaBetta and Michael Goldsticker, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

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Updated August 27, 2020