A Baltimore detective and Philadelphia patrol officer allegedly teamed up to sell heroin and cocaine seized from the streets, but their partnership turned hostile after one was arrested, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors urged a federal judge Friday to detain Philadelphia Officer Eric Troy Snell until trial after they said he threatened the children of Baltimore Detective Jemell Rayam.
Snell was recorded on the phone saying he would “keep an eye” on Rayam’s children after the Baltimore detective was arrested, prosecutors said.
“This was an explicit reference,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Hines said, “that he would hurt his children, and that causes us grave concerns.”
Snell’s defense attorney argued that the phrase was “susceptible to multiple interpretations.” Still, he couldn’t persuade U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Coulson to release Snell to his mother’s home in Philadelphia.
Coulson ordered Snell held until his trial in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
“One interpretation, as argued by the government, is extremely concerning,” Coulson said.
Hines also said Snell was a threat because federal agents who raided his home found several guns, including an assault rifle with the serial number removed. They also found drug packaging such as plastic bags with some powder, and chemical testing continues on the powder.
Defense attorney David Solomon said he hadn’t seen the evidence yet but suspected there are innocent explanations. He characterized as “far-flung” the accusations that Snell had conspired to sell heroin and cocaine Rayam seized from Baltimore’s streets.
The case was all based on Rayam, whose word couldn’t be trusted, Solomon said.
Snell was the latest police officer charged in a far-reaching drug case brought against eight members of an elite Baltimore police unit. The officers are accused of robbing people of drugs and cash, then selling some of the drugs. Two officers, including Rayam, admitted to helping convict drug dealers who sold heroin throughout the Baltimore suburbs.
Rayam and three other officers have pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges and await sentencing next year. The other four Baltimore officers are fighting their charges; they head to trial next year.
Snell served nearly three years as a Baltimore police officer. He left the department in 2008 and moved to Philadelphia.
He is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin. Snell faces up to 20 years in prison. His trial has not been scheduled.