By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Twenty nine alleged drug dealers from the Penn North neighborhood of Baltimore are facing federal indictments related to distribution of enough fentanyl to kill 200,000 people.

A 10-month-long investigation by the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement in West Baltimore, which was targeting violence and drugs, led to six federal indictments that charged a total of 29 people on conspiracy, drug distribution and firearms charges.

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The suspects are members of six different drug crews that sell fentanyl branded under names like Bullseye, Dirty Sprite, Lamar Jackson and Master P.

“All too often, guns and drugs go hand in hand—and both tragically are killing a lot of people in Baltimore. The Strike Force will continue to target areas where violence is fueled by armed drug dealers,” Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner stated. “We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to get both the guns and the drug dealers off of our streets and to reducing violent crime in our neighborhoods. The indictments we are announcing today reflect our commitment toward achieving that goal.”

The indictment was unsealed Thursday as 23 of the defendants were arrested. Five defendants are considered fugitives and a sixth person absconded from pretrial release.

Federal authorities also seized $935,000 in cash, $70,000 worth of luxury jewelry — including Rolex watches — and nine firearms in relation to the case. They also seized four kilograms of fentanyl, which could killed 200,000 people, as well as cocaine and heroin.

“The Baltimore Police Department is committed to working alongside our law enforcement partners to target those involved in the illegal drug trade and those illegally carrying firearms in our city,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. “These indictments represent the great collaborative work that our agencies are doing to combat drug trafficking in some of our most challenged neighborhoods. We know that drug trafficking fuels violence in our communities and we must remain vigilant in combating these criminals who continue to contribute to overdose deaths in our city.”

The first indictment returned on Aug. 25, 2020 charged 38-year-old Wesley Clash, 24-year-old Dashelle Claridy, 41-year-old Vincent Davis, 25-year-old Myesha Jones and 26-year-old Kevin Riggins — all from Baltimore — with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, crack and powder cocaine called “Dirty Sprite.” Some of these defendants were also charged on other counts.

Riggins is a fugitive and Davis escaped from his pretrial release.

The second indictment, which was also returned on August 25, 2020, charged 40-year-old Jerold Gilliam, 29-year-old Akeem Ross, 25-year-old Charles Bond, 50-year-old Trevor Connors, 44-year-old Gilbert Conway, 35-year-old James Meekins, 28-year-old Isaiah Timms, 30-year-old Marquese Ward and 30-year-old Welton Whittington, Jr. for their participation to distribute fentanyl and crack cocaine using the name Bullseye. All of these defendants are also from Baltimore. Some of these defendants were also charged on other counts.

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Ross is a also considered a fugitive.

Five Baltimore area defendants — including 47-year-old Ronald Green, 46-year-old Kinnard Riggs, 25-year-old Malik Gilmore, 36-year-old Edward Baker and 51-year-old Clifton Bryant — were also charged in a 9-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on November 10, 2020 for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl using the name “Special.” Some of these defendants were also charged on other counts.

Fifty-year-old Lawrence Nichols, who was also charged in this indictment, is believed to be deceased.

A federal grand jury also indicted 33-year-old Jerome Willingham of Baltimore on Nov. 10, 2020 with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl that Willingham branded as “Lamar Jackson.” He is considered a fugitive.

Another five-count indictment charged 48-year-old Torico Reaves, 57-year-old Michael Bowles, 48-year-old Shawn Jackson, 40-year-old Lafonte Johnson, 54-year-old Robert Ross, Jr., 51-year-old Albert Sheilds and 33-year-old Kevin Toppin with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl under the name “Master P.” Jackson is a fugitive.

Jacquez Maith-Bost, 29, of Baltimore was also indicted on a charge of possession with intent to distribute heroin and crack cocaine on Dec. 9, 2020.

The defendants face a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison for the conspiracy; a maximum of 20 year in federal prison for each count of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances; a maximum of life in federal prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

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This story was originally published on March 18, 2021. 

CBS Baltimore Staff