Feds look to seize $10 million from alleged drug kingpin

Court filing links Blackwell to real estate in Cecil, Baltimore City

August 31, 2010|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

Federal authorities are trying to seize $10 million from reputed drug kingpin Steven Blackwell Jr., who was indicted along with two others on federal heroin distribution charges last month.

The brief court filing in U.S. District Court indicates for the first time the scope of Blackwell's alleged drug empire and links him to two real estate companies that own property in East Baltimore and a home along the Elk River in Cecil County that was purchased for $740,000.

Authorities have labeled Blackwell, 26, a key player in a violent drug feud that began with the abduction of his two younger brothers and included a quadruple shooting outside an appliance store and a shootout at a backyard cookout that injured 12 people, including Blackwell.

Despite his stature, Blackwell, also known as "J.R.," hadn't faced serious charges since he was 17 years old. He was picked up in New York last week after being indicted along with co-defendants Tahirah Carter, 34, and Joy Edison, 24, whose roles have not been spelled out.

Court papers and state business records show that Blackwell and Edison are linked to two real estate companies, JJM Realty LLC and J. Edison Properties, which own property in the Oliver, Berea and Johnston Square neighborhoods that were purchased between Aug. 29, 2008, and Jan. 6, 2009. According to assessments, they appear to be vacant homes.

State records show that JJM is registered in Blackwell's name for the purpose of "buying, selling and renting properties," while J. Edison properties dissolved last year after failing to file proper paperwork.

The Cecil County home is in a new development along the Elk River, with 35,000 square feet of property, and the title is in Edison's name.

Federal prosecutors filed a document Tuesday giving notice that they intend to seize "any and all property obtained directly or indirectly" as a result of drug dealing, including $10 million in U.S. currency, which they say was "furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for controlled substances."

Blackwell has yet to make an appearance in Maryland court, and details of the allegations remain unclear. But a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office announcing the indictments indicated a wide range of agencies working on the investigation, including the IRS, FBI, city and state police, city prosecutors and New York's Drug Enforcement Agency.

In April 2008, Blackwell's two younger brothers were abducted by masked gunmen from their Catonsville home by rival drug dealers who thought Blackwell was cheating them on the price of heroin, according to documents previously filed in federal court by an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Blackwell paid a $500,000 ransom to free his brothers, the records show.

Six weeks later, authorities said, gunmen took revenge with a quadruple shooting outside the Allen & Family Appliance store, a discount appliance shop in East Baltimore. The store was operated by the family of Terrell Allen, described by law enforcement officials as a drug dealer who took part in the Blackwell kidnapping. The shooting killed Allen's father, Tony Allen, 52, and a 27-year-old named Omar Spriggs. Terrell Allen and another man were injured.

In the months that followed, several Blackwell associates were killed. Then on July 26 of last year, gunfire rang out at a backyard cookout in East Baltimore held to commemorate their deaths. Twelve people were shot and wounded, including Blackwell, a pregnant woman and a 2-year-old girl.



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