Mexican Drug Dealer Pleads Guilty to Baltimore County Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy
Traveled from Mexico to Baltimore to Purchase 10 Kilograms of Cocaine, Which he Planned to Resell to Co-Conspirators; Arrested with Two Loaded Firearms in Car
Baltimore, Maryland – On October 22, 2018, Gary Gaines-Hidalgo, age 26, of Baja California, Mexico, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Chief Terrence B. Sheridan of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
According to Gaines’s plea agreement, HSI and the Baltimore County Police Department were investigating a drug trafficking organization in Baltimore County. Gaines was identified as a member of the organization, along with Tony Lee Bauer and four others. In December 2017, Gaines arranged to purchase kilograms of cocaine for $26,500/kilogram from a confidential source (CS), who was working with law enforcement. Thereafter, Gaines arranged to resell the cocaine to several associates for $28,000/kilogram. Gaines arranged to have 10 kilograms of cocaine delivered to him in Baltimore.
As detailed in his plea, on January 26, 2018, Gaines and a co-conspirator entered the United States from Mexico, then traveled to Baltimore. Gaines and his co-conspirator agreed to sell three kilograms of cocaine to their associates, with additional sales of kilograms of cocaine to follow the initial purchase. Gaines agreed to meet the CS in the parking lot of a Baltimore hotel, and told the associates to whom he was selling three kilograms of cocaine to also meet him there.
Three cars arrived at the agreed-upon location, one driven by the CS and two other vehicles being operated by Gaines’ associates. Gaines was in the rear passenger seat of a car being driven by Bauer. The CS opened the trunk of his car, which contained two kilogram-shaped packages, one of powder cocaine and one kilogram of “sham,” or fake narcotics. Gaines placed his hand in the bag containing the packages and members of HSI and the MSP Tactical Team approached. The vehicles being driven by Gaines’ associates attempted to drive away, but were stopped. In the first car, which is the car Gaines had been riding in, a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol was recovered from the center console and a loaded .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol was recovered from the rear passenger-side floor of the vehicle. On the rear seat was a vinyl bank bag containing bank-banded cash and a white bag also containing cash. A search of Bauer also recovered banded up amounts of cash. In all, law enforcement recovered $129,583 in cash from the defendants, their vehicles, and their residences.
As part of his plea agreement, Gaines must forfeit the two loaded firearms, the cash recovered after the arrests of Gaines and his co-defendants, and four vehicles, including a Range Rover, a Mercedes Benz, a Cadillac Escalade, and a Cadillac CTS.
Gaines faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has scheduled sentencing for January 2, 2019 at 12:00 p.m.
Tony Lee Bauer, age 36, of Baltimore, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Judge Russell has scheduled sentencing on January 2, 2019, at 11:00 a.m.
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. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended HSI Baltimore, the Baltimore County Police Department, and the Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Romano and Derek E. Hines, who are prosecuting the case.