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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 15, 2021

Member of Gregory Butler Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison for His Role in the Drug Distribution Conspiracy

Defendant was a part of a Drug Trafficking Organization that Arranged Heroin, Crack Cocaine, and Fentanyl sales to Drug Users and Redistributors from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm sentenced Tirrel Saunders, a/k/a “Pretty”, age 35, of Baltimore, Maryland to 15 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Saunders was a member of the Gregory Butler Drug Trafficking Organization (“Butler DTO”) which distributed heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and crack cocaine in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. 

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski 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.

According to his guilty plea, from October 2018 to April 2019, FBI investigators intercepted phone communications of the Butler DTO that operated in and around the Baltimore area, arranging heroin, crack cocaine, and fentanyl sales to drug users and redistributors from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The Butler DTO sold thousands of dollars in narcotics daily and frequently sold over 100 grams of heroin mixed with fentanyl on a daily basis. Customers of the Butler DTO believed they were purchasing heroin; however, the Butler DTO adulterated all heroin it sold with fentanyl.

As stated in his plea agreement, Saunders was identified as a Butler DTO supervisor, which involved managing the daily supplies of narcotics and the collection of drug proceeds from distributors. FBI investigators intercepted communications of Saunders regularly arranging the resupply of heroin and crack cocaine to co-conspirators who would then sell those narcotics to customers. Saunders also communicated with Butler DTO leadership and acted as a liaison between Butler DTO leadership and street-level distributors.

Saunders agreed that over the course of the conspiracy, he distributed over one kilogram of heroin to street-level distributors.

This case is 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.

This case is also 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 Erek L. Barron commended the FBI, DEA, Montgomery County Police Department, and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. United States Attorney Barron also recognized 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 for their assistance. United States Attorney Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew DellaBetta and Peter J. Martinez, who prosecuted the case.

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4885
Updated November 15, 2021