Eastern Shore Drug Distributor Sentenced To 19 Years In Prison For Heroin And Cocaine Trafficking
Was a Fugitive for Over a Year
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced Austin Roberts III, age 37, formerly of Elkridge, Maryland, today to 19 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine and cocaine base (crack 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; Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Wicomico County Sheriff Michael A. Lewis; Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan; Chief Michael Phillips of the Fruitland Police Department; U.S. Marshal Johnny Hughes; and Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matthew Maciarello.
“Today's sentencing of Roberts closes the book on a drug dealer who was responsible for trafficking a lot of cocaine on the Eastern Shore,” stated Gary Tuggle, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office. “You can run and hide but the long arm of justice will eventually catch you. This case demonstrates the commitment of the DEA and our law enforcement partners to bring an investigation to a successful conclusion,” added Tuggle.
According to Roberts’ guilty plea, from 2007 until his arrest in December 2012, Roberts conspired to distribute heroin and cocaine. His co-conspirators included Andrew Jackson, Maurice Hardy and others. Roberts distributed multiple kilograms of cocaine to Hardy on several occasions. For example, after a telephone call in which Hardy indicated that Roberts would be supplying him with seven kilograms of cocaine for $31,500 per kilogram, on May 12, 2011, Jackson, under Roberts’ direction, provided several kilograms of cocaine to Hardy. Subsequent to this meeting, law enforcement stopped Jackson’s vehicle and seized over $160,000 from a hidden compartment. During the course of the conspiracy, Roberts distributed or directed the distribution of well over 50 kilograms of cocaine and a kilogram of heroin.
For over a year following his indictment on state and federal charges, Roberts eluded arrest. On July 19, 2011, an officer patrolling the New Jersey Turnpike stopped the vehicle Roberts was driving. Roberts provided a California license under the name John Nash. When the officer learned that the name was an alias for Roberts who was wanted, he requested back up. Roberts ran away as the officers continued to investigate his identity. In August 2012, a California Highway Patrol officer attempted to stop a vehicle Roberts was driving, but Roberts again escaped on foot. Officers seized over $29,000 from a hidden compartment in the vehicle. Roberts was arrested in San Diego, California on December 4, 2012.
Andrew Jackson, age 40, of Baltimore, Maryland, Maurice Kenneth Hardy, age 37, of Nanticoke, Maryland, and Tereek Nutter, age 30, of Salisbury, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the drug conspiracy. Judge Hollander sentenced Jackson to 10 years in prison, Nutter to 151 months, and Hardy to 16 years in prison.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the DEA, U.S. Marshals Service and the Wicomico County Narcotics Task Force, comprised of the Maryland State Police, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, Salisbury Police Department, Fruitland Police Department, and the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in this investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Joshua L. Kaul, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.