15 indicted in federal drug case

December 13, 2006|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,sun reporter

Federal authorities in the Baltimore region launched yesterday their second large-scale drug raid in less than a week.

But the arrests also worried the state's top federal prosecutor, who expressed concern that the influx would make it more difficult to find jail space for federal defendants in Maryland.

A U.S. District Court judge unsealed a grand jury indictment yesterday against 15 defendants for conspiracy to distribute 5 or more kilograms of cocaine and 50 grams or more of cocaine base over the last year, primarily out of Southeast Baltimore.

Of the 15 people indicted on Dec. 5, 13 are from Baltimore, one from Elkridge and one from Aurora, Colo.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $2 million against the defendants. The figure, prosecutors said, is based on a minimum of 2 kilograms of cocaine obtained per week for at least 52 weeks, at a minimum value of $20,000 per kilogram.

Seven of the suspects were also charged with conspiracy to transfer false identification documents.

U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein said yesterday that together with a similar roundup of defendants in a drug raid last week, he worried that the swelling number of pretrial detainees would be difficult to house.

In large part, the bed shortage stems from the lack of a dedicated federal detention facility for the U.S. marshals to house inmates awaiting trial in the state. Room must be found each night in local facilities across three states to put up about 500 federal detainees from Maryland.

Rosenstein said the U.S. marshals are routinely able to bring detainees to federal prosecutors to discuss their cases and, if necessary, negotiate guilty pleas. But with the new detainees, U.S. Marshal Johnny L. Hughes told Rosenstein that his officers would be too busy to transport prisoners this week to prosecutors' offices.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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