BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Five members of a crime ring consisting mostly of family members have been indicted following a 10-month-long investigation, according to the Office of the Attorney General.
Officials said the Booze family sold deadly drugs out of an auto shop in Baltimore and distributed them to another auto shop in Anne Arundel County.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Severe Storm Threat Prompts Alert Day Saturday
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced on Wednesday that law enforcement officials had indicted Dwayne Booze, 48, and Thomas Timothy Booze, 51, of Baltimore along with Maurice Dotson, 47, of Severn on various “drug and weapons charges.” Law enforcement officials also indicted Michael Booze, 27, and 31-year-old Thomas William Booze, 31, of Glen Burnie.
The Booze family “ran a very sophisticated drug operation in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County,” Frosh said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“Our investigation revealed as early as February 2021 that Duane Booze was directing this operation distributing large amounts of drugs fentanyl cocaine marijuana in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County, and Baltimore County,” he said.
Investigators learned that the organization was using two autobody shops—Xclusive Services, located at 1200 block of W. Pratt Street in Baltimore, and Furnace Branch Automotive, which is located in the 1700 block of E Furnace Branch Road in Anne Arundel County, authorities said.
Detectives built their case in part on the observation of dozens of hand-to-hand drug transactions in multiple jurisdictions and intercepted communications over a wiretap that confirmed the distribution of large amounts of controlled dangerous substances, according to federal investigators.
They also tracked communication among crime ring members on social media and via cellular phones, according to an indictment.
“Often those conversations were coded to avoid law enforcement and conceal the illicit nature of the conversations,” the indictment states.
The Organized Crime Unit in the Office of the Attorney General, along with detectives from the Anne Arundel County Police Department, used their observations and other evidence to obtain court-ordered search and seizure warrants for 20 locations throughout Maryland, authorities said.READ MORE: Baltimore Police Stepping Up Deployment On Fourth Of July Weekend, Commissioner Says
Court records show that those warrants were executed in early December 2021.
At those various locations, police found and seized more than five kilograms of fentanyl, more than 500 grams of heroin, more than seven kilograms of cocaine and cocaine base, and nine firearms, according to federal investigators. Police seized $70,000 in cash too, according to federal investigators.
“Five kilograms of fentanyl—11 pounds of fentanyl—is an enormous amount,” he said. “What I–my understanding is that 1,000 micrograms will kill just about anybody. There are a billion micrograms of fentanyl in a kilogram . . . It’s enough to kill a million people per kilogram.”
Additionally, investigators found a sophisticated marijuana farm consisting of more than 400 marijuana plants inside of the Xclusive Services auto shop in Baltimore.
The family and its cohorts were shipping drugs out of the Xclusive Services auto shop to Furnace Branch Automotive, Paul Halliday, the assistant attorney general of the Organized Crime Unit said at the press conference.
“We know that drugs were…either being distributed out of that location or being brought to another location to be distributed to middle- and lower-level purchasers in Baltimore County.
The arrest of the crime ring stems from “a simple tip from a concerned citizen,” Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal Awad said at the press conference.
“These cases take a substantial amount of time to build and sometimes people become upset when they provide a tip and they don’t see immediate results,” she said.MORE NEWS: State Police Expand Traffic Enforcement On I-83 In Baltimore City
In the end, the sprawling operation led to a reduction in crime in the north part of Anne Arundel County, Awad said.