The arrests served as the latest fallout from the street-level distribution of a homegrown video that unabashedly promoted the city's drug trade and threatened those who would dare testify against its purveyors.
King, 35, of Baltimore, and Murray, 34, of Abingdon, each joined the city Police Department in 1992 and last worked in its public housing crime unit. Last night, both were in federal custody.
"These corrupt police officers betrayed their shields, their fellow officers and the citizens they were sworn to protect," interim Maryland U.S. Attorney Allen F. Loucks said. "In bringing this indictment, we will ensure that these defendants will be brought to justice, and that the unlawful conduct of these rogue cops will not tarnish the reputation of their honorable fellow officers."
Stop Snitching started modestly on the streets of Baltimore, selling for as little as $10.
But when discovered by authorities late last year, the amateur production quickly became a powerful symbol of loudmouthed lawlessness in the city.
It tarnished the reputation of a Baltimore-bred professional basketball player who made an appearance in the video. Yesterday, NBA star Carmelo Anthony apologized, saying he would appear in a government-sanctioned video to counter the impact of Stop Snitching.
Stop Snitching also served as a rallying cry in Annapolis this year in the successful effort to strengthen the state's law on protecting witnesses from intimidation. Its ripple effects also buffeted the Police Department. Just this week, officials issued the Keep Talking DVD, their own response to Stop Snitching in the hopes of reassuring a wary public that drug dealing and witness intimidation could be put in check.
Four people who appeared in Stop Snitching have also been charged. The latest, Van A. Sneed, 29, was picked up April 30. In the video, he appears to smoke marijuana, and calls snitches "cowards."
Officer Hikeen Crampton described Sneed's arrest yesterday. Crampton said he was working in plainclothes in West Baltimore when he spotted Sneed and another man carrying bags of suspected drugs.
As police approached the men, they fled, and Crampton grabbed Sneed. "As I turned him over, I realized he was one of the dudes from Stop Snitching," Crampton said.
Police said Sneed was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin and distribution of heroin. He posted bail and was released from the Central Booking and Intake Center.
However, all of those efforts to counteract Stop Snitching took a serious hit yesterday when the Police Department saw two of its own placed behind bars.
"The only thing I can say is that obviously they haven't had their day in court," said Lt. Frederick V. Roussey, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, the city police union. "But if it's proven, then they're no better than the criminals they're shaking down."
King and Murray were expected to make their first appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore today. Attorneys for the men could not be reached last night.
The five-count indictment against King and Murray read like an episode of the television show The Shield.
The officers are accused of conspiring to rob and extort cocaine, heroin and marijuana -- as well as drug-related proceeds -- from suspects they met on the streets of the city. A third defendant, Antonio Mosby, 39, is charged with serving as their lookout and informant in the drug world.
Federal officials declined to answer any questions about whether Mosby was in federal custody last night.
The indictment states that King and Murray started their illegal activities in August last year. They were armed and seemingly on the job when they allegedly rounded up suspects and held them in their cars, according to the indictment. Then they used the threat of force, arrest and prosecution as their enforcement tools.
As late as April 15 this year, King and Murray detained a man and a woman for drug dealing and robbed them of their drugs and money without arresting them, according to the indictment.
Federal prosecutors said all three defendants split the proceeds from the robberies and sold the drugs they seized for mutual profit.
Specifically, King, Murray and Mosby have been charged with conspiracy, illegal drug dealing and illegal gun possession. King is charged with two additional counts of distributing cocaine and marijuana.
If convicted on the most serious charge of conspiracy to possess a firearm in the commission of a violent crime, each man could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Sun staff writer Ryan Davis contributed to this article.