BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Safe Streets worker whose job is meant to interrupt violence in Baltimore City appeared before a judge Friday on drug distribution charges.
Federal prosecutors say Ronald Alexander used his position with Safe Streets as cover and now faces similar charges.READ MORE: Former Baltimore Safe Streets Member Ronald Alexander Pleads Guilty In Federal Drug Distribution Case
Alexander was already on supervised release from a heroin distribution conviction in 2001.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner said Alexander and his co-conspirators were targets of a months-long wire-tap investigation that began when Alexander was picked up on a wiretap helping to smuggle drugs inside a federal prison, according to prosecutors in court.
Ultimately, on Sunday, August 9, the complaint said police pulled Alexander over and seized 101 grams of suspected heroin.
“They are able to get those drugs from other parts of the country, or even other countries, and then sell them out onto the street very quickly, and these are actually very dangerous drugs, like heroin and fentanyl,” Lenzer said.
Alexander was a worker with the Violence Interrupters who are often credited with settling street disputes.
“Mr. Alexander did utilize his affiliation with Safe Streets as a shield, as a cover, for the drug trafficking organization,” Lenzer said.
Friday, federal judge David Copperthite agreed.
“[Safe Streets] gave [Alexander] legitimacy… it shows he’s not capable of being supervised,” the judge continued. “It is absolutely astonishing during a pandemic, there are still drug-related homicides every single day in Baltimore.”
Alexander will be held pending trial.
The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice touted Safe Streets’ success in curbing violence.
In a statement, they said, in part:
“As a program that employs and relies heavily upon individuals with criminal histories, recidivism is an adverse risk of this strategy. upon learning that a member of the Safe Streets Baltimore team had been engaged in illegal activity, the office took swift action to separate him from the program.”
Alexander’s preliminary hearing is set for August 31. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.