Firefighter trainee arrested in probe of drug ring

December 12, 2008|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

A prospective Baltimore firefighter was arrested at the department's training academy Monday, one of nine people indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin, as part of a sweeping drug investigation that netted several federal indictments in September.

Fire officials confirmed that Brandon Ferebee, 20, was taken into custody at the fire academy, where he was slated to graduate next month. He was among a group of people indicted Dec. 3, a follow-up to a wiretap investigation that broke up a large-scale heroin operation on Baltimore's east side and led to the seizure of drugs, guns and thousands of dollars.

Ferebee and several of the other people who were charged - including a former clerk at a Baltimore District Courthouse - are mentioned in September's federal indictments, which detail a drug operation that functioned as a fully formed business with a hierarchy of employees. It was alleged to have been run by Johnnie Butler, 32. Prosecutors say his "Red Dot" drug ring made $100,000 a week in profits.

Ferebee's residence, in the 400 block of Ilchester St. in Harwood, was used as a stash house for the organization, DEA officer Michael Collins alleged in those September documents. Ferebee was recorded on wiretaps and alleged to be discussing drug transactions.

Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman, said Ferebee had no criminal record when he was accepted into the academy and called the incident "unfortunate."

Also charged in the new indictment are Danara Ashe, 24, and Davon Ashe, 21, siblings of previously indicted Daron Ashe, who is accused of managing one of the heroin shops. Danara Ashe was a clerk for the District Court of Maryland; Margaret Burns, a spokeswoman for Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia A. Jessamy, confirmed that Ashe was fired.

Additional defendants include Latoya Benston, of the 2200 block of E. North Ave., who was described in federal court documents as someone who brought heroin to a contact in the state prison at Jessup; Tavon Young, 21, of the 400 block of Ilchester Ave.; Keith "Fatboy" Spriggs, 23, of the 3900 block of Main Ave.; Douglas Brooks Jr., of the 300 block of Font Hill Ave.; Adam Harris, 20, of the 4400 block of Springwood Ave; and Leon T. Hunt Jr., 26, of the 4000 block of Fordleigh Dr.

Burns said she could not comment on the indictments and their connection to Butler's operation.

The federal documents detail how three people previously arrested on charges of heroin distribution turned against Butler and others and acted as informants. Wiretaps intercepted calls and text messages from seven cell phones, documenting the group's recent activity.

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