Twenty-one people, including 10 suspected gang members and associates, were arrested recently as part of a wiretap investigation that dismantled a large gang and drug operation in Harford County.
The wiretap investigation by the Harford County Task Force, headed by the Harford County Sheriff's Office, has effectively shut down the drug dealings and the operations of the local World's Most Dangerous gang, which was operating primarily in the Edgewood area of the county.
It also led to the arrest of the suspected mid-level suppliers in Baltimore City and County and the wholesale suppliers in Atlanta, Ga. It also led police to Harford County's Most Wanted criminal, Isaiah Sibert, who was arrested in Edgewood on six outstanding warrants, but not in connection with the wiretap.
"This has a huge impact on stemming the flow of drugs into Harford County," Lt. Lee Dunbar of the Harford County Task Force said Tuesday. "We are sending the message that if you are going to sell drugs, dangerous drugs, in Harford County, we are going to be relentless in our pursuit of you and your organization."
Sheriff Jesse Bane said, he made a promise when he took office to do what he needed to do to deal with the drug and gang problems in Harford County.
"We've pretty much disrupted that gang set in Harford County," Bane said. "We are sending the message that if you think because you belong in a gang, or you've been dealing drugs in Harford County a long time, you're immune, you're not. Sooner or later we're going to get you."
The arrest of so many key players and the removal of drugs makes the streets and communities safer. And it's money well spent.
"It gets drugs off the streets and more bad guys in jail," Bane said. "For the community where they're operating, the people who live there, it's certainly a sigh of relief. They don't want to live in a neighborhood overrun by drug dealers or users."
The wiretap investigation led to the arrest of suspected mid-level dealers in Baltimore City and County and the wholesale supplier in Atlanta, Ga.
"That's rather significant when you can do that," Dunbar said. "A lot of times we can't identify all three levels, a lot of times we stop at mid-level."
The investigation began in late 2011 into crack cocaine sales on the street, street robberies and other violent activity. By February, the task force was able to obtain a warrant for the wiretap investigation, during which cell phone and land line conversations were monitored.
Task force members executed 15 search and seizure warrants on Grempler Way, McCann Street, John Drive and Crimson Tree Way in Edgewood; Mountain Road in Fallston; Arena Road in Street; Royal Ann Court in Baltimore County; Aberdeen Avenue, Bryant Avenue, South Paca Street and Conkling Street in Baltimore City and in the Atlanta region.
Seized as part of the investigation were 4.5 kilograms of powder cocaine, which was being cooked into crack cocaine for a higher profit margin, 2 kilograms of raw heroin and 2.4 pounds of marijuana, all of which had a combined street value of $680,000. Also seized were one handgun, a 1999 BMW, a 1996 Chevrolet truck and $118,000 in cash.
Eight people have been indicted federally and 13 at the state level on drug distribution and conspiracy charges in connection with the ring that sold crack cocaine and heroin in the Edgewood area as well as Baltimore City and County.
The mission of the task force is to target violent offenders, to get them off the streets and make Harford County safer.
"When they're hit with federal charges, state charges, and put in prison for an extended period of time, that reduces the amount of violence out on the street and makes our community safer," Dunbar said.
Indicted at the state level with drug conspiracy and distribution charges are: Melissa Marie Ryan, 20, of John Drive in Edgewood; Coty Wilson, 22, affiliated with WMD, of Mountain Road in Fallston; Conrad Gaylord, 19, affiliated with WMD, of Brookside Drive in Edgewood; Andrea Griffin, 22, of Brookside Drive in Edgewood; Mercede Cecila Jacobson, 20, of Windstream Way in Edgewood; Dashawn Robinson, 21, affiliated with WMD, of Edgewater Drive in Edgewood; Ronald Bates, 22, affiliated with WMD, of Mitchell Drive in Aberdeen; Alexander Manuel, 20, affiliated with WMD, of Crimson Tree Way in Edgewood; Jamie Dixon, 32, affiliated with the Bloods gang, of Edgewater Drive in Edgewood; Shalon Coleman, 31, of South Freedom Lane in Havre de Grace; Lawrence Sterling Fox, 27, of Ashby Square in Edgewood; and Willie McKie, 25, of Asbury Road in Churchville.
Besides the sheriff's office, members of the task force include Maryland State Police, DEA, the state's attorney's office and Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments.
Allied agencies in the investigation include the FBI, Baltimore City Police Department aviation, Baltimore County Police Department, U.S. Marshal Service, Maryland State Police Fugitive Squad and US. Army RAID Aviation Team based in the Edgewood Area.