12-person federal drug indictment linked to April shootout, pursuit of suspect to Hopkins' doorstep

The recent federal indictment of 12 Maryland men on charges of operating an East Baltimore drug ring is linked to a shootout that led a wounded man and a trail of law enforcement officers to the doorstep of Johns Hopkins Hospital early last month, federal officials confirmed Thursday.

After the April 3 shootout, agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene almost immediately, according to local residents, and stormed a house in tactical gear with long-guns drawn and ATF commanders — including ATF Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Daniel L. Board Jr. — taking tactical positions outside.

At the time, the ATF would not answer questions about its presence at the scene.

However, court records unsealed in the federal case Wednesday show federal law enforcement officials had been investigating an alleged drug crew in the same block for months, and an ATF spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that the broader drug case was the reason the agents were in the area at the time of the shootout.

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that the 12 indicted men had been distributing large quantities of heroin and cocaine out of the 1200 block of Aiken St., in East Baltimore’s Midway neighborhood, where the ATF initiated an investigation in November and the April shooting occurred.

Two of the 12 defendants — Devin “Dev” O’Cain, 26, and Charles “Nub” Alston, 28, both of Baltimore — also were among the five people arrested after the April 3 shootout.

O’Cain and Alston were arrested in a home in the same block of Aiken Street after the shooting, and charged by city police with attempted murder for allegedly exchanging gunfire with three other people.

The federal indictment also includes several counts against O’Cain and Alston that are related to the April 3 incident, including possession with intent to distribute crack and heroin and conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

O’Cain did not have attorneys listed in his state or federal cases. Alston did not have an attorney listed in the federal case. His attorney in the state case could not be reached for comment.

Amanda Hils, the ATF spokeswoman, declined to provide additional information about the investigation or how the shooting affected it.

The April shootout drew lots of attention in Baltimore in part because the three people with whom police said O’Cain and Alston exchanged gunfire fled the scene in a vehicle being trailed by police and were arrested outside of Hopkins, where one of them sought treatment for a gunshot wound.

krector@baltsun.com

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