A multi-month wiretap investigation by the Harford County Narcotics Task Force has led to the indictment of 22 people on state and federal drug charges.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation All Aboard,” alleges that two Harford residents were responsible for distributing large amounts of cocaine in the county, according to a statement from the task force.
Ultimately, 22 people were indicted — including one from Arizona — and over 2.5 kilos of cocaine, more than 66 grams of crack cocaine, 69 fentanyl pills, about 435 grams of marijuana, 28 guns, 19 vehicles valued at more than $258,000, and approximately $110,000 were seized, according to the task force.
Eighteen were indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and four others were charged with standalone cases involving firearms and/or the possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances, according to the task force.
Nine of the 22 defendants are federally detained, according to Christopher Romano, a prosecutor with the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office, including the alleged leaders of the drug trafficking organizations: Che Durbin, 42 of Aberdeen, and Reginald Bolden, 37, of Bel Air.
Two community tips led to wiretaps of 18 phones and one social media messenger platform. The investigation spanned more than a year, and multiple search warrants were executed throughout Harford County. The state and federal indictments occurred between July and October 2020, with arrests continuing until April 2021, according to the statement.
Harford County State’s Attorney Albert Peisinger applied to a judge to authorize the wiretaps. Few people at the state level can apply for a wiretap — state’s attorneys, the attorney general and the state prosecutor.
According to the transcript of a detention hearing for Arizona resident Jack Anderson IV filed in Maryland’s federal court, the task force learned that Durbin would be receiving a kilogram of cocaine shipped from Tucson, Arizona, to Aberdeen in May 2019. Detectives saw the package be delivered and, a half-hour later, Jameka Cara Thompson carry the same package out of the apartment and drive away.
Detectives followed Thompson, 40, of Abingdon, searched her car and found the package, seeing it was addressed to a fictitious company called “True Homes LLC.” The sender was listed as Samuel Johnson of Arizona, but testing revealed Anderson’s palm prints on the package, which contained a kilogram of cocaine, according to the transcript.
In January 2020, investigators learned Durbin was going to send a package from Havre de Grace to Tucson, the transcript states. Postal inspectors told investigators that the package was being returned to Maryland. When they searched it, they found over $82,000, packaged in a way “consistent with drug trafficking,” the transcript states.
“Detectives here contacted DEA agents in Tucson who advised that amount of money would be the equivalent of purchasing 4 kilograms of cocaine from a source state such as Arizona,” the document states.
After that, in May 2020, Durbin drove across the country to Tucson, the transcript states, and Harford County investigators followed him to a hotel in the city where he met with Anderson.
A short while later, Durbin went back to the airport and picked up Thompson. The next day, he booked a flight back to Maryland.
Thompson obtained cocaine from Anderson, investigators believe, and began driving east on I-10 from Arizona toward New Mexico, according to the transcript.
But Thompson turned around after leaving Tucson — possibly because she did not have the right amount of cocaine — and met with Anderson again before setting off in a rental minivan, the transcript states. It took her about three days to drive back to Maryland. When she arrived, investigators searched the van and found “two packages containing bulk amount of cocaine,” the transcript states.
That, prosecutors maintain, was not the first such trip Durbin and Thompson took. Between January 2019 and May 2020, investigators believed the two bought about 10 kilograms of cocaine.
“Between January of 2019 and May of 2020, Ms. Thompson took a total of eight trips to Tucson and typically Mr. Durbin would travel to Tucson one day before in order to secure payment or provide payment for the kilograms of cocaine,” the transcript states. “And once Ms. Thompson arrived in Tucson, she would meet with the defendant, Mr. Anderson, and obtain from the source of supply the cocaine and then travel back to Harford County.”
In the detention hearing, Anderson’s attorney stated that he ran a pest-control business in Tucson and was on the board of a nonprofit called “My Brother’s Keeper” in the city, which organizes food and clothing drives.
If convicted, Anderson would face a maximum sentence of life in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years, according to the documents.
In addition to Anderson, Durbin and Thompson, 34-year-old Terrell Walton of Bel Air and 36-year-old Michael Ronnell Wells of Churchville face a medley of federal charges in the case.
Bolden’s case files do not present a narrative of the alleged offenses, but he is accused of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, according to the indictment. His co-defendants, Tremayne Murphy, 40, of Aberdeen, and Joel Hammond, 35, of Essex, are also accused of selling drugs. Spokesperson for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Kyle Andersen said that Hammond was Bolden’s supplier.
The federal cases are being handled by Romano, who retired as the chief of narcotics for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore in December 2020 before joining Harford County’s state’s attorney’s office on a part-time basis, working with the drug task force. He began his career as an attorney with Harford’s state’s attorney’s office in 1979.
Romano’s federal credentials are still good, he said, allowing him to prosecute the case.
When he was a prosecutor in Baltimore, Peisinger worked with federal authorities and came to know Romano. When he heard of Romano’s plans to retire, he reached out to see if he would be interested in returning to Harford’s state’s attorney’s office.
Romano’s credentials make him one of a few state prosecutors with the knowledge and authorization to try federal cases, Peisinger said. Romano’s inclusion streamlines the process because he knows what warrants federal prosecution and can take cases straight to the U.S. attorney’s office instead of waiting for state cases to be federally adopted.
“It was a no-brainer,” Peisinger said. “I was very lucky to get ahold of him.”
The Harford County Drug Narcotics Task force is a multi-jurisdictional entity composed of police from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments, the DEA and Harford State’s Attorney’s Office. It is focused on mid- to upper-level drug, homeland security, and vice issues.
“I look forward to the successful prosecution of all the suspects in this case and once again, a message has been sent to all who want to commit crime in Harford County — we will catch you and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said of the investigation.
Messages to most of the attorneys representing the individuals charged were not immediately returned, but Murphy’s attorney declined to comment on the case.
Twenty-two people were indicted as part of a Harford County Drug Task Force trafficking investigation. Of those, 18 were indicted for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and related charges. They are:
Aubrey Akers, 39, Darlington; released on bond
Nancy Akers, 59, Darlington; currently being held at the Harford County Detention Center
Burton Anderson, 51, Street; released on bond
Jack Anderson, 44, Tucson, Arizona; federally detained
Reginald Bolden, 37, Bel Air; federally detained
Che Durbin, 42, Aberdeen; federally detained
Adrian Goodwin, 35, Havre de Grace; currently being held at the Harford County Detention Center
Joel Hammond, 35, Essex; federal home detention
Wayne Mclain, Jr., 36, Street; released on bond
Tremayne Murphy, 40, Aberdeen; federally detained
Curtis Myers, Jr., 36, Belcamp; released on bond
Edward Pettigrew, 59, Aberdeen; currently being held at the Harford County Detention Center
Lenora Sikalis-Barber, 53, Darlington; released on bond
Lee Ann Taylor, 48, Darlington; open arrest warrant
Jameka Thompson, 40, Abingdon; federally detained
Romaine Timms, 50, Aberdeen; released on bond
Terrell Walton, 34, Bel Air; federally detained
Michael Wells, 36, Churchville; federally detained at the Harford County Detention Center on additional state charges
Four others were charged with standalone cases involving firearms and/or the possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances, according to the task force. They are:
Ramon Dalmida, 38, Aberdeen; released on bond
Gerrick Jackson, 39, Havre de Grace; federally detained
Sterling Melton, 34, Aberdeen; currently being held at the Harford County Detention Center
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John Washington, 26, Aberdeen; currently being held at the Harford County Detention Center