Federal prosecutors in Baltimore brought new charges yesterday against four men that could make them eligible for the death penalty if they are convicted of killing at least one witness to a crime.
The six defendants in custody are accused of participating in a drug ring called Special Heroin that enforced its control of street sales through the murder of three people and the shooting of a fourth.
Whether to pursue the death penalty is a decision to be made by the U.S. attorney general, said Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
The case is also connected to John Dowery, 38, who was fatally shot near his old East Baltimore home on Thanksgiving last year. Yesterday's 15-count indictment does not specifically charge any of the defendants with Dowery's death, but it charges some of them with taking part in a shooting that Dowery survived.
Police and the FBI are investigating whether Dowery, who had been moved out of the city but tried to sneak back into town, was killed because he was expected to be a witness in the federal drug case, FBI spokesman Richard Wolff said last night.
Those charged in the revised indictment are Tracy "Boo Boo" Love, 20; James "Miami" Dinkins, 38; Cornell Booker, 24; Melvin Gilbert, 32, all of Baltimore; Tamall "Mo-Mo" Parker, 20, of Essex; and Randy "Blade" McClean, 30, of Nottingham. Love, Parker, Gilbert and Dinkins could be sentenced to death because they have been charged with taking part in the killing of witnesses, prosecutors said.
According to the expanded charges filed in U.S. District Court yesterday, Gilbert led the Special Heroin organization, overseeing the sales of heroin, cocaine and marijuana in Baltimore from June 2002 to February 2007.
The remaining defendants are alleged by prosecutors to have been members of Special Heroin, distributing narcotics to customers and collecting drug proceeds.
Prosecutors allege that Dinkins, Love and Parker acted as "enforcers" against potential witnesses.
According to the indictment, Gilbert suspected that Shannon Jemmison was cooperating with law enforcement authorities in the federal investigation of brothers Howard and Raeshio Rice, who were later convicted of breaking federal racketeering and narcotics laws.
Gilbert then directed Dinkins to kill Jemmison, who was shot and killed Sept. 10, 2005, according to prosecutors.
Dinkins is also charged with the Nov. 10, 2005, shooting death of Michael Bryant and the nonfatal shooting of Dowery on Oct. 19, 2005. Love and Parker are charged with the Oct. 13, 2004, shooting death of James Wise.