A Baltimore City man, allegedly tied to two non-fatal heroin overdoses and to drug trafficking in Harford County, is facing federal heroin distribution charges, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.
Karon Elijah Peoples, 23, who is tied to residences in the 6000 block of Frankford Avenue and the first block of West Lexington Street in the city, was linked by the Harford County Narcotics Task Force to alleged drug trafficking and dealing and to six non-fatal heroin overdoses — two in Harford and four in Baltimore and Carroll counties and the Eastern Shore, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“Our main objective is to target those dealers that are providing this heroin and fentanyl to our citizens that are causing their deaths or overdoses. And we are going to continue to do that,” Capt. Lee Dunbar, head of the task force, said during a news conference at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Bel Air.
“Our message to those drug dealers in and around Harford County, in Baltimore City, which is a major source for supply of heroin and fentanyl to our county, is that we know who you are, and we will be there. We will be conducting surveillance and covert operations and we will find you. And once we find you, we will arrest you and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” Dunbar said.
Detectives used covert investigation, confidential sources and surveillance of Peoples to develop probable cause to obtain a search warrant for Peoples’ vehicle and his homes, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Peoples was arrested on Dec. 7, 2017, during a traffic stop in Baltimore City. Police found in his possession about 70 grams of suspected heroin. He was taken to Central Booking, where he was charged with possession of a large amount of drugs and released on $50,000 bond, Dunbar said.
Search warrants were then executed on two Baltimore City residences linked to Peoples.
At the West Lexington Street address, police seized about 900 grams of heroin with a street value of $110,000 along with $405,000 in cash, police said. Several items of narcotics paraphernalia, consistent with heroin distribution, were also recovered by investigators, including a kilogram wrapper.
Police also seized the Louis Vuitton bags the cash was stored in, two watches valued at about $70,000 and $20,000 and a 2017 Honda Accord, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“So you can see the profit margin is driving this industry and driving this epidemic. Dunbar said. “Until we can get a handle on that it’s going to continue.”
Peoples was indicted Jan. 4 in U.S. District Court of Maryland for possession with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin. According to court records, the indictment was initially sealed but was ordered unsealed on Jan. 9, the day Peoples was arrested on those charges, according to court records. He was ordered held without bail during a detention hearing Jan. 12, according to court records.
Peoples’ lawyer, listed in federal court records as Kobie Flowers, of the firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy in Baltimore, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Dunbar said the investigation is continuing and additional charges are pending against Peoples.
Harford Task Force members investigating the sources of heroin and fentanyl often end up in Baltimore City, Dunbar said.
“Unfortunately, more often than not, we are tracing back our source suppliers to Baltimore City. We’re not alone. That’s the vast majority of Maryland, Baltimore metro counties, Baltimore City is their source supply, as well as for northern Virginia, northeast West Virginia and as far out as western Maryland,” Dunbar said. “A lot of dealers have said they would rather stay in the city and take their chances there than come to Harford County.”
The goal of the task force is to target the mid- to upper-level dealers, according to Dunbar.
“We do want to target the street dealers as well, but we want to go to the source of supply such as Mr. Peoples and work our way up those organizations and then dismantle them,” he said.
All heroin overdose information goes into a database that is shared statewide, and using that information, task force members have developed a target list, Dunbar said.
“Right now, we have a lot of people on that target list and that was my message earlier, that we know who a lot of these dealers are, and our message is that we will be coming for you and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
The task force has more work to do, he said. Heroin overdose numbers aren’t going down — they were up more than 50 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“And this year the numbers aren’t going the way that we would like to see them,” Dunbar said.