6 Indicted For Drug Conspiracy

August 29, 2009|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

After a two-year federal investigation involving wiretaps, confidential informants and undercover drug buys, a grand jury has indicted at least a half-dozen people, mostly Anne Arundel County residents in their 20s and 30s, on charges that they conspired to import cocaine from Panama for distribution.

Six defendants were arrested this week and appeared in U.S. District Court on Friday to determine whether they would be jailed pending trial.

Among those ordered detained were Melinda Lewis, who has a prior federal drug conviction; Howard Fannin Jr., who is alleged to have threatened violence against co-conspirators and a potential informant; and Randy Lee Davis, who along with defendant Mark Milligan Jr. was earlier convicted of reckless endangerment for shooting at undercover police officers in 2006. Milligan was released Friday under sealed conditions.

Defendant Christopher A. Beckner, whose Griffis Avenue home was the "hub" of the conspiracy according to prosecutors, was detained until space becomes available at a halfway house. And Robert Link, who allegedly sold cocaine at a Liberty Mart shop on Crain Highway, was allowed to stay with his father under home detention.

About 20 people showed up to support the defendants, including their parents, extended relatives and partners.

Though most of the records in the case, including the indictment, are under seal, prosecutors said Friday that wiretap communications and surveillance by Drug Enforcement Administration agents suggested a vast network of dealers, suppliers and couriers.

Cocaine was delivered to buyers via FedEx packages and drug payments were smuggled into Panama strapped to the bodies of couriers, who received a 5 percent cut in exchange for the risk, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors wouldn't say if more arrests are expected, though the docket for a wiretap order in the cases lists an additional six defendants.

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