Jones could lose mail, phone Convicted drug lord has ordered 'hits' from prison, prosecutors say

August 22, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Saying he is too murderous to be stopped by prison walls, prosecutors asked a federal judge yesterday to indefinitely strip Baltimore drug lord Anthony Ayeni Jones of his right to communicate via phone or mail.

The unusual request was made in U.S. District Court in Baltimore moments after Jones, who used secret codes and terror tactics to rule one of the deadliest gangs in city history, received three consecutive sentences of life without parole.

Prosecutors told Judge William M. Nickerson that they believe Jones' past tactics of successfully ordering "hits" from prison will continue unless stringent measures are taken. They said Jones, 26, is believed to have ordered at least three executions on prison telephones using a coded language known to him and his lieutenants.

"The only way to effectively control Jones' ability to manage his ,, organization and conduct his illegal activities while in jail is to restrict his telephone, mail and visiting privileges completely," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie M. Bennett told the judge.

Nickerson, despite the objections of Jones' attorneys, who argued such isolation would constitute "cruel and unusual punishment," imposed the order temporarily. The judge said he will rule in 10 days on whether to make the order indefinite.

Bennett said the Jones organization, a $30,000-a-day heroin and cocaine ring linked to more than a dozen killings, still has members on the street and that Jones has recently found ways to contact them. Some of the cohorts have been receiving messages through Jones' mother, whom he had been allowed to call, Bennett said.

"He doesn't care about his mother," Bennett said of Jones. "He's just using her so that he can contact his friends."

Harry J. Trainor Jr., one of Jones' lawyers, said prosecutors were being vindictive.

"They're asking the court to essentially sentence the prisoner to solitary confinement," Trainor said. "The Bureau of Prisons has the situation under control. We don't think the court's intervention is necessary."

Trainor pointed to a recent sanction imposed by the federal Bureau of Prisons, which took action against Jones because of the murder of John Jones February 1997 at a rowhouse in East Baltimore. John Jones was a federal witness who had agreed to cooperate against Anthony Jones' organization.

Anthony Jones was being held awaiting trial at the federal penitentiary in Allenwood, Pa., when he ordered his henchmen to kill John Jones. Speaking on a prison phone, he used his "fergy-dergy" code, a loose form of street slang and pig Latin, to order the hit by saying, "That nergy jergy gotta get wergy." Translated, it meant, Anthony Jones wanted John Jones killed.

Prison officials have revoked Anthony Jones' phone privileges for 10 years because of the John Jones murder. The judge's order yesterday also forbids Anthony Jones from receiving or sending mail, and from being visited by anyone other than his attorneys.

Trainor said security around Jones is so tight that even he and his co-counsels have not been able to see their client.

Jones' organization operated from 1990 to 1997. Throughout his two-month trial this year, prosecutors painted a picture of a brazen young man who went to extreme lengths to kill his rivals.

Throughout yesterday's proceedings, Jones sat stoically. He did not react when Nickerson sentenced him to three consecutive ** life terms.

Pub Date: 8/22/98

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