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Indictment in basketball court killing alleges violence, camaraderie in Southwest Baltimore drug crew

Federal prosecutors on Monday provided a glimpse at the inner workings of an alleged Baltimore drug ring, detailing a feud that left a 16-year-old dead, a bystander shot and a 23-year-old behind bars on a slew of drug and gun charges.

In U.S. District Court in Baltimore, prosecutors told a judge that Justin Antoine murdered teenager Jordan Deshields, shooting him twice in the head on a basketball court in Southwest Baltimore. The young victim’s crew sought revenge and months later opened fire on Antoine in the streets, prosecutors said. The ensuing gunfight left one bystander shot and wounded.

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“This is a defendant who poses an extreme risk to the community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew DellaBetta told the judge.

Magistrate Judge Beth Gesner agreed and ordered the 23-year-old Antoine locked up until trial on federal drug trafficking and firearms charges. In an indictment unsealed Monday, Antoine and more than a dozen others are accused of dealing heroin and cocaine around Edmondson Village and stockpiling guns to protect their turf. The Southwest Baltimore crew was run by Adam “Fats” Martin and Calvin Claxton, prosecutors say.

Defense attorneys for the alleged gang leaders declined to comment.

The two men and their accomplices are accused of dealing as much as a kilogram of heroin and 280 grams of cocaine. Prosecutors say Antoine himself peddled drugs from his work at a Subway sandwich shop on The Block. When The Baltimore Sun called at the shop, his manager said she never saw him deal drugs.

The alleged drug crew also includes Eryica “Miss Cookie” Davis, who went around with a weapon in her pocketbook, prosecutors wrote in the indictment. They wrote that Robert “Uncle Rob” Williams stored the crew’s cutting agents at his antique store filled with African masks at Hollins Market.

“What they charged me with, they’re selling it in every store, all over the place,” Williams said, referring to the cutting agents, when called at his store.

Prosecutors described a pattern of retaliatory shootings, saying the violence began when 16-year-old Deshields robbed the crew headed by Martin and Claxton. He was gunned down on the basketball court in May 2018. At the time, Baltimore Police said they found a gun and drugs on the boy’s body.

“He was essentially executed by Mr. Antoine,” DellaBetta told the judge. “Mr. Antoine approached and shot at close distance Mr. Deshields — twice in the head.”

Deshields was a student at the New Era Academy, a middle and high school in Cherry Hill. He was killed on the court at the Mary E. Rodman Recreation Center.

U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert Hur attended Antoine’s hearing Monday and said such drug crews have brought about the gun violence that continues to grip the city. Baltimore has suffered more than 300 homicides for four straight years. Hur praised the FBI wiretap investigation that led to the indictment.

“That’s the way we are going to get back control of our city,” he said.

In the indictment, prosecutors wrote that members of the drug crew were caught on wiretaps discussing drug deals and murder plots. Undercover federal agents bought heroin from members of the drug crew, prosecutors wrote.

In December, Antoine was also recorded talking about buying a long gun from someone in the neighborhood, they wrote.

“That will put some s— down,” he allegedly said on the wiretap.

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Prosecutors also said Antoine once lost his handgun and he believed he left it in an unlicensed cab. When the driver denied finding a gun, Antoine plotted to confront and kill him, prosecutors said. They said he hatched a plan to make a fake Instagram page to lure the driver.

“This is a defendant who was willing to kill, willing to rob, willing to carjack,” DellaBetta told the judge. Prosecutors also said they heard him admit to the killing on a wiretapped phone call.

Antoine’s attorney, Teresa Whalen, did not discuss the specific crimes in the indictment. She did, however, note that Antoine had no criminal record.

“He has for the most part stayed out of trouble,” she told the judge.

Gesner agreed, saying there was no indication of violence.

“It’s an unusual case where the defendant’s criminal record is not substantial,” the judge said.

When federal agents raided the crew’s stash houses, they found a cache of guns, gel caps of heroin and vials of cocaine, prosecutors wrote. Trial has not yet been scheduled for the 16 defendants.

Williams, who owns the antique shop, said many of the people indicted are like a family. He faces lesser charges of drugs and paraphernalia.

“They are my friends’ sons. They come to me like I am their father, their father or their uncle,” Williams said. “This is B.S. That’s what this is. I’ll stand up for those guys that I’m there with. I got love for them and I'll stand up for them.”

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