Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Julie R. Rubin sentenced Jermaine Steward, age 33, of Gwynn Oak, Maryland today to nine years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release, after Steward pleaded guilty to federal charges for possession with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl and for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Steward is the last defendant of the drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) to plead guilty.
Co-defendant Jamar Middleton, age 35, of Edgewood, Maryland, pleaded guilty on April 13, 2023, and was sentenced to 138 months in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release, on the same charges.
The guilty pleas and sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal E. Awad; Chief Robert McCullough of the Baltimore County Police Department; Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
“Our comprehensive approach to preventing violence includes today’s Reentry and Resource Fair to provide resources to returning citizens to keep them from reoffending, as well as our efforts to remove guns and repeat offenders from the streets by any legal means necessary. And we are having success,” said United States Attorney Erek L. Barron. “As of today, homicides in Baltimore are down more than 18% from last year and non-fatal shootings are down more than 15%. We remain laser-focused on reducing violent crime.”
According to his guilty plea, the DEA investigated the Burton DTO operating in Baltimore. On December 15, 2021, law enforcement searched a stash house used by DTO leader Edward Burton, Steward, Middleton, and co-conspirator Jerrell Simms, and recovered approximately 431.25 grams of mixtures or substances containing fentanyl, including a bag of 6,450 gelatin capsules containing approximately 231.67 grams of fentanyl and another bag containing 644 gelatin capsules containing 113 grams of fentanyl, as well as narcotics packaging materials and other drug paraphernalia. The search of the stash house also recovered seven firearms and ammunition, including three 9mm handguns; an AR-15 style rifle; a .45-caliber handgun; a 7.62 x 39mm caliber pistol; a .40-caliber rifle; .45-caliber magazines; and 7.62 x 39mm and 9mm ammunition. Law enforcement also recovered $4,376 in cash and jewelry valued at $13,550, which constituted proceeds of drug trafficking. Additional firearms, cash and jewelry were recovered from other search locations associated with the defendants.
Edward Burton, age 38, of Jessup, Maryland, pleaded guilty on October 12, 2022, and was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison. Jerrell Simms, age 37, of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and was sentenced to 97 months in federal prison.
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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through relationships forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime. The specific mission of the Baltimore OCDETF Strike Force is to reduce violent, drug-related, and gang crime in the Baltimore area and surrounding region.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the DEA, the Anne Arundel County Police Department, the Baltimore County Police Department, the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joan C. Mathias and Ariel Evans, who prosecuted the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psn and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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