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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Member of Violent Baltimore Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to More Than 22 Years in Federal Prison for a Drug Conspiracy and Related Charges, Including Murder

Admits his Involvement in a Murder and a Shootout Where an Unarmed Bystander was Shot

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm today sentenced Justin Antoine, a/k/a Justo, age 24, of Baltimore, Maryland, a member of a drug trafficking organization operating in Southwest Baltimore, to 270 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and for discharging a firearm resulting in death during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.  In addition to the murder, Antoine admitted that he was part of a shoot-out where a bystander was shot.

The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.

“This case exemplifies the danger to the people of Baltimore resulting from the illegal drug trade,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “Justin Antoine and his co-conspirators brought the deadly combination of guns and drugs into their community.  This sentence sends a strong message that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are working together to remove violent drug dealers like Antoine from our streets.”  

“Today’s sentencing exemplifies the successful teamwork of Maryland law enforcement agencies to target and dismantle violent street gangs that threaten the safety and stability of our neighborhoods,” said FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone.  “The citizens of Maryland have the FBI’s commitment that we will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to investigate and prosecute dealers like Justin Antoine and remove violent criminals from the neighborhoods of Baltimore.”

According to his plea agreement, from at least April 2018 through January 2019, Antoine participated in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) operating in and around the Edmondson Village neighborhood of southwest Baltimore.  The DTO sold heroin and crack cocaine on a daily basis in street-level quantities.  Antoine regularly sold heroin and crack cocaine, which he obtained from other members of the DTO.

As detailed in his plea agreement, on several occasions in early 2018, individuals in the Edmondson Village robbed Antoine, stealing drugs, drug proceeds, and a cell phone that Antoine used to communicate with drug customers.  Antoine admits that on May 8, 2018, he sought out victim “J.D.” because Antoine believed J.D. was one of the participants in these robberies.  Antoine was armed with a loaded pistol and went to the Mary Rodham Recreation Center.  Once at the location, Antoine walked up to J.D. and shot him two times in the head, killing J.D.  Antoine acknowledged that this was an intentional killing and occurred during and in relation to his drug trafficking activities.  Following the murder of J.D., Antoine continued to distribute heroin and crack cocaine.  In November 2018, Antoine was standing on the block where he frequently distributed drugs when a vehicle operated by friends of J.D. arrived.  At least one occupant of that vehicle fired a gun at Antoine.  Antoine was armed with a handgun and shot back at the vehicle.  During this exchange of gunfire, a bystander was struck by gunfire.

As detailed in the government’s sentencing memo and presented at today’s hearing, on November 26, 2018, Antoine planned to rob an unlicensed taxi driver whom Antoine believed refused to return a gun that he had left in the driver’s vehicle.  During a wiretapped call, Antoine said that if the driver gave him any issues during the robbery that he was “splatting that sh*t,” meaning he would murder the driver. Another wiretapped call captured Antoine discussing his attempt to illegally purchase an assault rifle.

Law enforcement arrested Antoine on January 10, 2019, as he was traveling to work.  Investigators seized a loaded firearm and heroin from Antoine.  Antoine admitted that he possessed the heroin with the intent to distribute the drugs.

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 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.    

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the FBI, the ATF, and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation and thanked the Anne Arundel County Police Department for its assistance.  Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew DellaBetta, who is prosecuting the case.

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated March 18, 2021