The state attorney general's office announced the indictment of six Baltimore teenagers on dozens of criminal counts, alleging they conspired to commit burglaries in order to steal handguns, rifles and shotguns in 2015.
The indictment, filed last month, accuses the teens of repeatedly breaking into a storage unit in the Park Heights area on successive days in 2015 and stealing 60 firearms, including several shotguns and high-capacity rifles.
Authorities say some of the defendants sold, traded and rented the stolen guns to others, or held on to the weapons and used them to commit several carjackings and armed robberies throughout Baltimore.
The investigation was a yearlong collaboration between the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Organized Crime Unit of the Maryland Attorney General's Office.
In recent years, the attorney general's office has brought a number of gang, drug and weapons cases, an area the agency historically did not wade into.
"These burglars were illegally selling and distributing stolen firearms and using them to commit acts of violence," said Attorney General Brian Frosh. "I commend the federal agents who worked tirelessly on this yearlong investigation to ensure our prosecutors can bring these criminals to justice, and make our communities safer."
Charged in the case are Aamir Benton, 17, Taquan Ervin, 19, Tione Smith, 18, Daesean Whitaker, 19, Nathan Wilson, 19, and Damondre Woods, 18. All were charged as adults.
The number of charges the defendants face is staggering. Benton, for example, faces 186 counts, according to court records. Smith faces 152 counts.
Defense attorney Stephen Beatty, who represents Woods, noted that his client was released on his own recognizance and said he is accused of crimes that occurred when he was 15. He said he is trying to get the case remanded to juvenile court.
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"There's allegations in this case that some of these guns were used in later carjackings and robberies, but my client's not accused of any of that," Beatty said.
No defense attorneys were listed in court records for Benton, Ervin, Wilson and Whitaker. The attorney listed for Smith could not be reached for comment Monday.
The storage unit that was broken into was in the 5300 block of Park Heights Ave., and authorities say five of the teens drove around after the second break-in attempting to sell the firearms to various people in the area of Queensberry Avenue. Prosecutors say they stashed the weapons in brush, vacant lots, and in their homes.
Allegations in the indictment stem mostly from events in 2015 and early 2016. Ervin previously faced charges related to one of the carjackings cited in the indictment, and court records show he pleaded guilty to an assault charge and was placed on supervised probation with GPS monitoring.