By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Baltimore man to nearly five years in prison for firearms offenses linked to a drug trafficking operation, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander sentenced Daniel Blue to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release for illegal possession of two loaded guns. Blue was prohibited from possessing firearms as a result of a previous federal drug conviction. A jury convicted him in May.

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“There is no question that the excessive amount of violence in Baltimore stems in part from criminals, like Daniel Blue, carrying guns. Getting these offenders off the streets is an important component of our efforts to address the murders and shootings that steal lives and undermine our communities,” Acting United States Attorney Jonathan Lenzner said in a statement. “This Monument Street case is the kind of impactful investigation that federal, state and local partners can build through collaboration and a dedicated commitment to improving our communities.”

In 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration began looking into drug trafficking on the Monument Street corridor in East Baltimore. Prosecutors presented jurors evidence that Blue, 39, was identified as a wholesale distributor of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and fentanyl and a source for the street-level distributors. Witnesses testified that Blue was intercepted on calls discussing the distribution of those drugs.

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On Jan. 8, 2019, investigators executed a search warrant at his residence and found a revolver, a semi-automatic pistol and more than $45,000 in cash. Blue took the stand during his trial and admitted the money came from drug sales. However, he claimed the guns were not his and denied he owned the house. He attempted to implicate his mother and sister, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors contended the statements were false and intended to obstruct justice. Hollander sided with prosecutors and considered Blue’s false testimony in sentencing, prosecutors said.

In addition to the firearms charges, Blue was charged with drug conspiracy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. However, the jury could not reach a verdict on those charges. A re-trial is set for November.

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In all, 23 of the 25 defendants in the investigation have pleaded guilty or been found guilty at trial. Another defendant has a trial set for November.

CBS Baltimore Staff