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Press Release

Leader of Large Scale Baltimore Drug Distribution Conspiracy Sentenced to 19 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Endorsed the Use of Firearms by Members of the Organization to Maintain Security; A .40-caliber Pistol and Ammunition Were Subsequently Seized from His Residence

Baltimore, Maryland – On October 22, 2021, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Gibran Nelson-Smith, age 41, of Pikesville, Maryland, to 19 years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute kilogram quantities of heroin, and crack cocaine, as well as quantities of cocaine and fentanyl.  

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Chief Lisa Meyers of the Howard County Police Department; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; Chief Amal E. Awad of the Anne Arundel County Police Department; and Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department.

According to his plea agreement, from at least 2015 through March 2019, Nelson-Smith conspired with others to distribute large quantities of heroin and crack cocaine, as well as cocaine and fentanyl, in and around Baltimore. Nelson-Smith exercised a supervisory role in the conspiracy, meeting with co-conspirators to provide the narcotics and resupplying the narcotics throughout the day.  Nelson-Smith also collected the drug proceeds from the distributors.

On at least one occasion between November 2018 and February 2019, law enforcement conducted several controlled purchases from Nelson-Smith.  On at least one occasion, law enforcement thought Nelson-Smith was selling heroin, but the lab results indicated that the drugs were a combination of heroin and fentanyl. 

As part of his plea agreement, Nelson-Smith admitted that he endorsed the use of firearms by members of the organization to maintain security in the areas where drugs were being sold, and also endorsed the use or threatened use of violence by members of the organization to protect the drug sales activities of the organization.  In January 2019, law enforcement received surveillance footage dated May 25, 2018, in which Nelson-Smith appears to brandish a firearm in the alley next to the “White House” located in the 3900 block of Dorchester Road in Baltimore, where Nelson-Smith operated.

Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Nelson-Smith’s residence on April 4, 2019, and recovered a .40-caliber pistol; a magazine for the pistol; at least 75 rounds of various caliber ammunition; cash; approximately 11 grams of a mixture containing heroin and fentanyl; approximately 46 grams of crack cocaine; approximately 251 grams of cocaine; and drug paraphernalia, including packaging material and digital scales; eight cellular phones; two tablet computers; and a laptop.

Nelson-Smith agrees that over the course of the conspiracy, he and his conspirators distributed at least a kilogram of heroin, at least a kilogram of crack cocaine, at least 250 grams of cocaine, and at least 10 grams of fentanyl. 

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.

This case is also 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.    

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HSI, the Howard County Police Department, the Baltimore Police Department, the Anne Arundel County Police Department, and the Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joan C. Mathias and Patrick G. Selwood, 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 and

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated October 25, 2021

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking