BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Jury selection began Monday in the racketeering case that rocked the Baltimore City jail. Last year, FBI investigators uncovered a drug smuggling operation that included not only members of the Black Guerilla Family gang but also correctional officers. Now the last eight of the defendants are heading to trial.
Rochelle Ritchie has the latest.
The eight defendants include two inmates and five correctional officers, facing numerous drug and racketeering charges.
Hiding their faces with their umbrellas, several of the former correctional officers accused of being part of the largest drug smuggling operation at the Baltimore City jail scurried away from WJZ cameras after being dismissed from federal court until jury selection resumes.
The eight defendants in the last bunch to face racketeering and drug charges after FBI investigators say they assisted members of the Black Guerilla Family in the selling and smuggling of illegal contraband, including marijuana, in and out of the jail.
“This situation enabled BGF members to run their criminal enterprise in the jail and on the streets of Baltimore,” said Stephen Vogt, FBI.
One of the attorneys spoke to WJZ outside of the federal courthouse, saying he believes his client is going to be acquitted, saying she simply got lumped into this racketeering case.
“There were correctional officers that were, in fact, guilty and that’s spilling over into correctional officers—particularly my client, that is being charged with a matter that occurred outside of the jail,” said Kevin McCants.
The ringleader, Tavon White, a BGF member, pleaded guilty in the spring. According to federal officials, White ran a lucrative drug smuggling operation at the city jail, using correctional officers to sneak the contraband into the jail in their shoes, hair and even private parts.
“People are going to do significant time because of their involvement in this conspiracy,” said US Attorney Rod Rosenstein.
A total of 25 people were indicted; 13 of them were correctional officers.
The judge says the jury could be selected by 2 p.m. Tuesday. If so, opening statements will start on Wednesday. The trial is expected to last two months.
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