20-ton Hydraulic Press recovered in Charles Village drug bust

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Well this isn't something drug detectives see every day.

After a month long investigation, detectives from the Baltimore police Violent Crimes Impact Section executed a search warrant on a home in the 2900 block of St. Paul Street in Charles Village and found a .357 semi-automatic handgun, a .50 caliber Desert Eagle Revolver, a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun, one and a half kilos of powder cocaine, and a half kilo of crack cocaine. Joseph Batson, 39, a convicted felon, was arrested on the street with a .10 mm Glock pistol and 4 1/2 ounces of crack cocaine, and inside the apartment, his wife, Jamie, 25, who just a month ago was put on a home monitoring system for a drug conviction, was also taken into custody.

The apartment was otherwise empty, except for a TV and the machine you see at right.


It's a 20 ton hydraulic compressor, and a cursory web search shows you can get one for as cheap as $200. It's used to straighten, stamp and bend metal for automotive and general shop work, according to web sites that have them for sale.

Detective Donny Moses, a police spokesman and drug cop, said it's also used by mid- to upper-level drug dealers to easily shape kilos of cocaine into neat and tidy, ready to package bricks.


"You know how you pour hot metal into something to shape it?" Moses said. "They liquefy the drugs, pour it into that shape, and then they compress the drugs into the form of a kilo block while it dries."

In the raid, police found baking soda and other cutting agents. "He was taking the raw cocaine, adding the cutting agent like baking soda or creatine, liquefying it and making a kilo, then selling it for a full raw kilo price."

In layman's terms? "He was ripping people off."

Police seized four vehicles from Batson: a 2008 Toyota Tundra, a 2005 Harley Davidson, a 2007 BMW, and a 1991 Ford F150. They also seized another $34,000 from his bank account and are looking to seize other properties that he owns (both Batsons' addresses are listed in the 3800 block of Birchview Avenue, in Northeast Baltimore). Joseph Batson has been charged with 22 counts of drug and handgun related crimes.

For more pictures of the detectives' haul, continue reading:


Joseph and Jamie Batson: