From the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore:
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland today announced a new initiative designed to combat the growing fentanyl overdose crisis in Maryland. According to statistics for 2018, there are projected to be more than 2,000 fentanyl deaths statewide, and in Baltimore alone there are projected to be at least twice as many fatal fentanyl overdoses as homicides. Under this new initiative, every arrest involving distribution of fentanyl made by law enforcement in Baltimore will be reviewed jointly by the State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore City, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine whether the case will be handled in the state or federal system. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute more cases involving fentanyl as a result of this new program. The use of federal resources and statutes, which carry significant terms of imprisonment, is necessary to prosecute those individuals who pose the greatest threat to public safety in distributing lethal doses of fentanyl.
The program was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; State’s Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Don A. Hibbert of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; and Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle of the Baltimore Police Department.
“State and federal law enforcement and prosecutors in Baltimore City are working together to arrest and prosecute those who peddle deadly fentanyl on our streets and in our neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “More and more people are dying from fentanyl overdoses in Baltimore City and throughout the state. We must do everything we can to reduce overdose deaths from this drug and from all opioids.”
Individuals charged federally under this initiative may face substantial minimum mandatory sentences, no parole and no suspended sentences, and sentences are often served in federal prisons far from home. For example, a defendant convicted in federal court of distributing 40 grams of fentanyl, enough to kill 20,000 people (just two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal), faces at least five years in federal prison. A defendant convicted of distributing 400 grams of fentanyl faces at least 10 years in federal prison, and if the distribution of fentanyl results in death, the defendant faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Pursuant to this new federal-state initiative to combat the fentanyl crisis in Maryland, the U.S. Attorney’s Office today unveiled three indictments charging four individuals in federal court. These three inaugural criminal cases targeting dealers of fentanyl are the first to be brought under the new program, with more prosecutions to come. The federal prosecutions are all being investigated by Special Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with officers from the Baltimore Police Department and other local law enforcement. The following defendants are charged federally with conspiracy and with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.
Gari Terrell Miller, age 38, of Clinton, Maryland, faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 40 years in prison. He is detained pending trial; and
Davon Nelson, age 33, and Terrell Perry, age 34, both of Baltimore, face a maximum of 20 years in prison. They have not yet had their initial appearances in U.S. District Court, but remain detained on related state charges.
Aubrey Heckstall, age 46, of Baltimore, is charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and has not yet had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court.
The fentanyl program announced today is intended to augment our ongoing opioid reduction strategy. That strategy includes proactive criminal investigations to reach the sources of supply, including those outside Maryland, prosecuting doctors and pharmacists who divert and illegally distribute opioids, as well as public outreach in Maryland communities. A few noteworthy cases and activities are highlighted below.
Proactive Prosecutions Targeting Sources of Supply
On October 24, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Nevone McCrimmon, age 47, of Edgewood, Maryland; William Elijah, age 51; and Terrance Mobley, age 50, both of Baltimore, Maryland, on the federal charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. According to their indictment and other court documents, the defendants are high-ranking members of a Baltimore-based drug trafficking organization that imports and distributes heroin, fentanyl, and other drugs in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The defendants allegedly obtained drugs from a Miami-based drug trafficking organization with ties to the Sinaloa and Tijuana Mexican drug cartels. To date, law enforcement has seized 20 kilograms of fentanyl and over $500,000 in U.S. currency. If convicted, the defendants each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
On November 15, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Derrell Dixon, age 39, of Columbia, Maryland and Teraino Johnson, age 45, of Baltimore, for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. Dixon was also charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. If convicted, these defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years and a maximum of life in federal prison.
Finally, on October 23, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Narada Michael Walls, age 38, of Salisbury, Maryland, with conspiracy to possess and to distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues resulting in death, possession with intent to distribute a fentanyl analogue and marijuana, and importation of a controlled substance, specifically, a fentanyl analogue, from China. Fentanyl analogues are chemical compounds designed to have effects similar to fentanyl and can be just as deadly. In the federal system, the penalties for distribution of analogues are often more severe in an effort to discourage dealers from creating and distributing them illegally. According to his indictment and other court documents, Walls used an assumed name and a fake email address to purchase methoxyacetyl fentanyl directly from suppliers in China. The indictment alleges that Walls’ distribution of the product resulted in at least one death. Walls faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison
Doctors and Pharmacists
Earlier this week, licensed pharmacist Richard Daniel Hiller, age 64 of Owings Mills, Maryland was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for conspiracy and for distributing oxycodone, and was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine. Hiller admitted that from 2014 to February 2017, he illegally distributed oxycodone to three women who were addicted to the drug in exchange for sexual favors. Over the course of the conspiracy, Hiller distributed approximately 20,500 15-milligram oxycodone pills.
In another case, David Robinson, age 49, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty in October 2018 to a drug conspiracy involving the distribution of oxycodone and alprazolam. Robinson, a licensed pharmacist who owned and operated the Frankford Family Pharmacy, admitted that he dispensed oxycodone and alprazolam outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Federal search warrants executed at locations associated with Robinson resulted in the seizure of more than $292,000, a loaded 9mm pistol, an AR-15 rifle with a magazine, and several boxes of ammunition. Robinson is scheduled to be sentenced on February 25, 2019.
In an effort to increase awareness of the danger of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and other opioids, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and the Drug Enforcement Administration have partnered to deploy billboards in Baltimore that illustrate that even small amounts of opioids are lethal. The billboard also brings awareness to the fact that more than 2,000 Marylanders will die from opioids in 2018.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is a member of the Opioid Task Force and works with local, state, and federal agencies to make people aware of the dangers of opioid abuse and the resources available to assist recovering addicts.
U.S. Attorney Hur thanked the State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore City, the DEA, the Baltimore Police Department, the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, the Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office, the Baltimore County Police Department; Homeland Security Investigations; the Maryland State Police; and the Salisbury Police Department for their work on the cases highlighted above. Mr. Hur also commended the many dedicated Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Assistant State’s Attorneys who are handling these prosecutions.