Richard Byrd Sentenced to 26 Years in Federal Prison for Leading Major Baltimore Drug Distribution Organization
Laundered Millions of Dollars in Drug Proceeds – Ordered to Pay Money Judgment of $20 Million
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett sentenced Richard Byrd, a/k/a Robert Smith, age 43, a Jamaican national residing in Maryland and Arizona, today to 26 years in federal prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and to conspiracy to launder drug proceeds. Judge Bennett also entered an order requiring Byrd to pay a money judgment of $20 million dollars, as well as forfeit his interest in two properties, three businesses, and 10 vehicles, and forfeit $1,609,411.51 in cash seized during the investigation.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Don A. Hibbert of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Chief Terrence B. Sheridan of the Baltimore County Police Department; Colonel Woodrow Jones, Chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police; Interim Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Colonel Frank L. Milstead, Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety; Chief Jeri Williams of the Phoenix, Arizona Police Department; and Chief Sean Duggan of the Chandler, Arizona Police Department.
“This case represents the very height of drug organizations operating out of Baltimore in recent history,” stated Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Don Hibbert. “The Byrd organization had it all; sources of supply, couriers, and lots and lots of money. But now all they have to show for it is a great deal of time behind bars to think about how they destroyed lives with the drugs they put on the street.”
“Richard Byrd’s actions were motivated by pure greed, as evidenced by the millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds he received while perpetuating his sophisticated narcotics trafficking and money laundering operation. IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to unraveling money laundering schemes such as this, where individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their money,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Interim Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office. “Today’s sentencing shows that IRS-CI, in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, will continue to bring cases like these to justice.”
According to his plea agreement and court documents, from 2009 through April 2014, Richard Byrd was the leader and organizer a drug distribution network which provided for the acquisition, transportation and distribution of cocaine and marijuana. The sale of marijuana and cocaine generated proceeds in the millions of dollars. These proceeds were counted and packaged in and around Baltimore. Byrd used couriers to transport the proceeds to the Atlanta, Georgia area, then others to transport the money from Atlanta to cities in Nevada, Texas, Arizona, and California, where the cash was used to purchase additional quantities of drugs.
Byrd also acquired a financial interest in a business in order to launder drug proceeds, finance commercial ventures, and pay other bills and expenses. At his direction, several million dollars in cash were deposited into the bank accounts maintained by the business. Many of these transactions involve deposits in excess of $10,000. In addition, Byrd used bank accounts in the name of an alias, Robert Smith, to conduct financial transactions intended to launder drug proceeds, including paying personal bills and expenses.
The conspirators used freight companies to ship drugs obtained in Arizona, California and elsewhere to distribution points in Baltimore, and other east coast destinations. Rasan Byrd supervised the Arizona-based activities of organization. Under the direction of Richard Byrd, Rasan coordinated the acquisition of large quantities of marijuana and cocaine from Mexican sources of supply and supervised several workers who weighed and packaged the drugs in a way to avoid detection by law enforcement. On April 22, 2013, law enforcement officers in Arizona seized 16 kilograms of cocaine and over 600 pounds of marijuana which were about to be shipped to Byrd’s Baltimore-based distributors.
The Baltimore distributors included Jerome Castle, Joseph Byrd, and Harold Byrd. Castle supervised the Baltimore operation, taking delivery of the drugs, selling them, and collecting and counting proceeds from the drug sales. On April 22, 2013, law enforcement officers in Maryland seized approximately 350 pounds of marijuana and over 10 kilograms of cocaine from businesses and residences utilized by Castle, Joseph Byrd, and Harold Byrd. In addition, almost $58,000 in currency and jewelry valued at more than $400,000 were recovered at the residence of Jerome Castle. The money and jewelry were also proceeds from illegal drug sales.
In addition, over $1 million was seized in Arizona from Richard Byrd in early 2011. In July 2012, an additional of $372,000 was seized from a residence in Arizona occupied by Richard and Rasan Byrd. These money seizures were proceeds from east coast drug sales intended for use in acquiring additional quantities of marijuana and cocaine.
During the course of this conspiracy more than 150 kilograms of cocaine and 20,000 kilograms of marijuana were acquired and distributed by Richard Byrd and his associates.
Brothers Rasan Byrd, age 41, of Houston, Texas, Harold Alexander Byrd, age 27, of Phoenix, Maryland, and Joseph Ibreham Byrd, age 35, of Owings Mills, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Rasan was sentenced to 14 years in prison and Harold and Joseph were each sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Jerome Adolfo Castle, a/k/a Dontwon Burris, age 37, a Jamaican citizen residing in Pikesville, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Castle was also ordered to forfeit $57,997 in cash, his interest in seven Baltimore properties, jewelry valued at more than $411,000, 98 pairs of men’s shoes, two laptop computers and an I-Pad, seven firearms and ammunition, as well as six vehicles, including a 2009 Jaguar XF Premium.
Maurice Jones, age 62, and Richard Drummond, age 40, both of Baltimore, also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and were sentenced to seven years in prison and two years in prison, respectively.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the DEA, Baltimore County Police Department, the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, IRS-Criminal Investigation, HSI-Baltimore, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Phoenix Police Department, and Chandler, Arizona Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys James G. Warwick and Kenneth S. Clark, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.