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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 19, 2018

Three Drug Dealers Plead Guilty To Participating In A Drug Conspiracy Right Before Jury Selection

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              Contact MARCIA MURPHY

www.justice.gov/usao/md                                         at (410) 209-4854

Baltimore, Maryland – Deandre Smith, age 28, Karron Wheeler, age 35, and Brandon Kellum, age 25, all of Baltimore, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, to a drug conspiracy involving the distribution of heroin and fentanyl, just before jury selection for their trial.

The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle of the Baltimore Police Department; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

According to Smith’s plea agreement, from at least July 2015 through April 28, 2016, Smith managed a large drug trafficking organization that supplied heroin and fentanyl to distributors in Baltimore, including Wheeler and Kellum.  Smith also managed a drug trafficking operation that operated in and around Pedestal Gardens, an apartment complex located in the 300 block of McMechan Street in Baltimore.  

Smith, Jamal Carter, and Dymir Rhodes maintained a “stash” house in Catonsville, Maryland, to store drugs and drug proceeds, and to process, and package drugs for distribution.  Once packaged for distribution, Smith, Carter, and Rhodes supplied large quantities of heroin and/or fentanyl to several drug shops in Baltimore, including shops operated by Wheeler and Kellum.  At Pedastal Gardens, Smith’s operation distributed “packs” of heroin and/or fentanyl and each “pack” typically contained between 25 and 50 gel capsules of the drugs, totaling approximately 2.5 to 5 grams. 

As detailed in Smith’s plea agreement, a co-conspirator killed two individuals on August 10, 2016 and October 7, 2015, respectively, to further the Pedastal Gardens drug organization’s drug trafficking activities.  The organization believed one of the individuals was distributing drugs in their territory, and the other individual was robbing drug dealers in the area and disrupting the organization’s drug trafficking.

On April 28, 2016, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the stash house in Catonsville.  At the time of the search warrant, officers located Smith, Carter, and another conspirator inside the residence.  During the search, officers discovered approximately 1,186 grams of fentanyl, 575 grams of heroin, and nine grams of cocaine, all of which was being packaged for distribution.  Officers also discovered approximately two kilograms of Phenacetin, a substance commonly used to “cut” drugs, as well as approximately $15,465 in cash, and drug paraphernalia.  Smith also had approximately $2,000 cash in his pocket.

According to Wheeler’s plea agreement, between at least March 2015 and August 26, 2016, Wheeler managed a drug organization that operated in several locations in Baltimore, including Pennsylvania Avenue and Laurens Street in West Baltimore.  During the course of the conspiracy, Wheeler employed or directed more than five individuals.  Wheeler admitted that, at his direction, the organization kept a firearm in close proximity to the drug shop for protection and to facilitate the drug operation.

According to Kellum’s plea agreement, from at least November 2015 until Febrary 18, 2016, he participated in the drug conspiracy.  On February 18, 2016, law enforcement was conducting surveillance at a shopping center in Catonsville and saw Kellum and a co-conspirator arrive, followed shortly thereafter by Carter.  Carter and Kellum met outside their vehicles, then after a brief conversation Carter got into Kellum’s vehicle and placed several plastic baggies containing fentanyl in the vehicle and received payment for the drugs.  Carter and Kellum left the area and law enforcement followed Kellum’s vehicle to the 3400 block of Edmondson Avenue, where officers initiated a traffic stop. Law enforcement recovered 135 grams of fentanyl, which Kellum had given to his co-conspirator and which, Kellum admitted, they had intended to distribute to their customers.

Smith and Wheeler each admitted that during their participation in the conspiracy they and his co-conspirators distributed between one and three kilograms of heroin.

Smith and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Smith will be sentenced to 25 years in prison.  No sentencing date for Smith has been set.

Wheeler and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Wheeler will be sentenced to between 10 and 13 years in prison.  U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for September 12, 2018.

Kellum and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Kellum will be sentenced to between five and seven years in prison.  U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for September 10, 2018.

Jamal Carter, age 24, and Dymir Rhodes, age 32, both of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the drug conspiracy, and were sentenced to 11 years and 10 years in prison, respectively.

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 the FBI, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Gardner and Christopher J. Romano, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated July 19, 2018