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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 13, 2019

Eight Baltimore Defendants Indicted For Fentanyl Distribution Conspiracy

Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned a superseding indictment charging eight defendants with participating in a heroin and fentanyl distribution conspiracy allegedly operating in the Baltimore area since at least February 2018, as well as related charges.  The superseding indictment was returned on May 7, 2019, and unsealed May 9, 2019.  The following defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin:

Raheem Benjamin, age 26, of Baltimore;

Tyrone Milton Gholston, age 39, of Baltimore;

Daryl Hart, age 38, of Edgewood, Maryland;

Joshua Johnson, age 28, of Baltimore;

Ellison Mccrea, age 28, of Baltimore;

Raynard Minter, age 21, of Baltimore;
Morranda Phimpisane, age 32, of Baltimore; and

April Wilkes, age 36, of Baltimore.

The superseding indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Don A. Hibbert of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.

“More and more people are dying from fentanyl overdoses in Baltimore City and throughout the state,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “We are continuing to do everything possible to reduce overdose deaths from fentanyl and from all opioids, by investigating and prosecuting those who distribute this poison in our community.”

In addition to the drug conspiracy, the seven-count superseding indictment charges Benjamin with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a prohibited person and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  Gholston is charged with maintaining a drug-involved premises.  Hart, Minter, and Phimpisane are charged with possession with intent to distribute a mixture of fentanyl and heroin, and Johnson is charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. 

If convicted, the defendants each face a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison for the drug conspiracy.  Benjamin also faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed and a maximum of 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition; and a maximum of life in prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  Hart, Minter, Phimpisane, and Johnson each face a maximum of 20 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances.  

All of the defendants except Gholston have been arrested and are in federal or state custody.  Hart and Phimpisane had an initial appearance on May 9, 2019 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, and were ordered to be detained pending detention hearings.  The six other defendants do not yet have an initial appearance scheduled. 

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment 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.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the DEA and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation and thanked the State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore City for its assistance.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. Goldsticker, who is prosecuting the case.

 

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Updated May 17, 2019