A Baltimore judge this week ruled to allow city prosecutors to withhold identifying witness information from defendants in the sweeping case against alleged members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang.
Judge Sylvester B. Cox on Tuesday granted a protective order, requested by the state's attorney's office, on any materials that could expose witnesses to harm or intimidation, after hearing a detective describe the fears witnesses had about cooperating with the investigation.
Forty-eight suspects accused of being members of the BGF gang, which operated a violent, widespread drug trade in the city and corrupted the Baltimore City Detention Center, were indicted last November. All but 10 of them face charges under the state's rarely used gang statute, which carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence but has been used only three times in the city.
Under the terms of the protective order, defense attorneys may not receive the witness information until 45 days prior to a specially set court date. The restrictions on the defendants are stricter still: They will not learn who might be testifying against them until one week before the trial. No trial date has been set.