Federal authorities announced Tuesday that they had cracked a large suburban Maryland drug organization, arresting 18 people and charging 15 of them with conspiracy to distribute more than a ton of marijuana.
According to a federal grand jury indictment, the drug trafficking organization, primarily based in Anne Arundel County, also dealt in cocaine, prescription drugs, steroids and other drugs. Law enforcement officials said they seized at least 30 cars, 60 pounds of marijuana, $300,000 in cash and 35 guns in the investigation. About 250 agents executed the search and arrest warrants.
As part of the indictment, the U.S. Department of Justice is seeking the court's approval to formally seize at least $10 million, eight properties, 22 bank accounts, 24 cars, and the assets and inventories of three businesses.
The investigation began when defendant Frederick Blair Thomas of Glen Burnie crashed his car Jan. 7, 2012, on Route 100 near Quarterfield Road in Anne Arundel County. Agents found 590 grams of shrink-wrapped marijuana, a money-counting machine, papers detailing the operation and $2,000 in cash inside his car, according to a news release from the justice department.
Kerem Dayi of Gambrills is the organization's leader, authorities said. The Department of Justice said Dayi had marijuana shipped or driven from California and New Jersey. Some of the drugs were allegedly flown in through Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Another defendant, Scott Russell Segal of Glen Burnie and Hanover, allegedly ran a stash house for the drugs off Interstate 97 in Glen Burnie. The organization also had a few businesses through which it laundered the drug money, authorities said. Most of the defendants were also charged with money laundering.
One of the businesses was an eBay company based in Jessup that sold shoes and other items; two other companies were based in New Jersey.
For the drug conspiracy charges, all the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison. For the money-laundering charges, 14 defendants each face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The defendants from Maryland are Thomas, Dayi, Segal, Steven Neil Madden of Randallstown, Martin Dandy of Arnold, Ryan Burton Wheeler of Annapolis, Anthony Caesar Santoiemma of Annapolis, Anthony Evans Owings Seen of Glen Burnie, Christopher John Garner of Hanover, and Sae Hyong Hwang of Odenton. Four defendants are from other states, and officials did not release where one defendant was from.