Accused drug courier in heroin ring is sentenced

Woman transported heroin and money between Baltimore and New York, authorities said

August 22, 2011|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

An Elkton woman indicted last year alongside a reputed drug kingpin on charges they ran a vast heroin ring was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison Monday, the Maryland U.S. attorney's office announced.

Tahirah Carter, 35, was charged with drug conspiracy in August for her role as a courier for Steven Blackwell Jr., a key player, authorities say, in a violent drug feud that has led to at least four homicides and several shootouts on Baltimore streets.

She pleaded guilty last fall, according to online court records, though much about her case has been kept secret. A December court hearing was sealed, and her attorney filed a request Monday to seal an earlier motion that "references her cooperation with authorities."

Her plea agreement was not posted online, nor immediately available through the U.S. attorney's office.

In court filings, prosecutors claim that she "made dozens of trips to the New York area to deliver money and pick up heroin. She was a critical part of the drug operation," which involved the distribution of more than 100 kilograms of heroin.

She admitted that her participation involved more than 30 kilograms of the drug, according to the Maryland U.S. attorney's office. Carter filed a notice Monday saying she intended to appeal the judgment and sentence in her case.

A third person charged in the scheme, Joy Edison, pleaded guilty in May to laundering more than $400,000 in heroin proceeds by trading the drug money for clean cash at Las Vegas casinos or paying people for their winning state lottery tickets. She's scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

A superseding indictment filed in April against Blackwell and Edison added charges of money laundering and cheating the Internal Revenue Service to the drug conspiracy claims. Edison pleaded not guilty to the drug conspiracy and tax evasion charges, however.

Blackwell is scheduled for trial in November.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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