A Baltimore man jailed on drug charges in 1991 continued to deal in drugs both locally and from behind the walls of one of America's toughest federal prisons, federal law enforcement sources said yesterday.
The inmate, Michael Barnes, 39, had his wife and others smuggle heroin to him inside the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Ind., where it was distributed to inmates, the sources said.
Yesterday, Barnes and his wife, Cheryl Denise Barnes, 37, were charged in sealed indictments brought by the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of Indiana.
Mrs. Barnes was arrested here yesterday after U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Baltimore County police raided her apartment in the 7200 block of Valley Country Court, the federal sources said.
In the apartment, agents recovered more than 2 pounds of high-grade heroin hidden among female garments in a dresser drawer, according to one federal source. The drugs have an estimated value, after being diluted with cutting agents, of approximately $500,000, that source said. A loaded .38-caliber revolver was found under the woman's bed, the source said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Clarence E. Goetz ordered Mrs. Barnes held without bail until U.S. marshals transport her to Indiana where she is expected to stand trial.
Barnes and his wife were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and other related charges.
The maximum-security Indiana prison holds upward of 1,500 inmates, many of them organized crime figures and major
narcotics violators serving lengthy sentences. One federal source said that the inmates had "a large appetite for heroin and lots of time on their hands."
Federal law enforcement sources said that Mrs. Barnes allegedly arranged for shipments of heroin to reach her husband through a variety of methods including personal visits and the mail. One scheme involved sewing the heroin powder inside clothing, a source said.
"He also used prison telephones to conduct his business in Baltimore," the federal source said. "Mr. Barnes used codes to talk with his wife and others. They held conference calls, used beepers, but didn't go entirely undetected as they thought."
The source said that Barnes talked with his wife "frequently."
The local operation was centered in West Baltimore where federal agents and city police yesterday also arrested Ronald Carter, 44, in the 100 block of S. Amity St.
Mr. Carter, who was charged with conspiracy to violate federal narcotics laws, was described as a "lackey" for Barnes who ran errands, handled telephone calls and served as a lookout.
In 1991, Barnes began serving a 17-year sentence after he was arrested in Baltimore with three-quarters of an ounce of heroin and a gun.
Barnes had been a lieutenant for Robert B. Dowdy, a large-scale trafficker whose operation was smashed in 1991 by federal agents.