ESSEX, Md. (WJZ) — An Essex man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute at least 28 grams of cocaine base.

According to his plea, Joel William Hammond, 35, supplied at least 112 grams of crack cocaine to a Drug Trafficking Organization. On February 4, 2020, the Harford County Narcotics Task Force received authorization to intercept wire and electronic communication of an alleged drug trafficking organization.

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Detectives intercepted multiple drug-related interactions over social media and phone calls.

On March 7, 2020, detectives followed one of the organization members to Hammond’s residence. Following the meeting, the members returned to Harford County and met with known drug users. Detectives believed Hammond to be the source of supply for the organization after the individual received three ounces of crack cocaine.

During the investigation, Hammond met with members and customers of the organization on at least 10 occasions between March and April of 2020. On March 31, 2020, police intercepted a number of communications from members looking to obtain crack cocaine from Hammond. Investigators later learned that he sold one ounce of crack cocaine to the individual during the meeting.

On April 21, 2021, investigators learned that Hammond and a member of the organization were scheduled to meet. After the meeting, the member drove back to Harford County and officers searched the vehicle during a traffic stop pursuant to a search warrant.

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During the search, officers discovered two plastic bags of a white substance as well as $660. One of the bags contained a white rock-like substance that was similar to powder cocaine that had been directly cut off a kilogram of pressed cocaine. The substance was 16 grams in weight.

The second bag was an off-white rock-like substance that officials determined to be crack cocaine. The total weight of the bag was 41 grams.

Both substances tested positive for the presence of cocaine with a combined weight of the two bags was 57.9 grams.

Authorities executed a search warrant at Hammond’s residence on April 22, 2020, and seized a small quantity of crack cocaine.

Hammond said the conspiracy involved at least 112 grams but less than 196 grams of crack cocaine.

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If the court accepts his plea, Hammond will be sentenced to six years in federal prison. Sentencing is scheduled for October 27 at 11:00 a.m.

CBS Baltimore Staff