Barksdale, 'Wire' inspiration, pleads guilty in drug case

Nathan "Bodie" Barksdale, who helped to inspire drug-dealing characters in the TV series "The Wire," pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to heroin conspiracy charges.

The reputed high-ranking Black Guerrilla Family member agreed to a plea deal that calls for 42 months in prison as a result of a wiretap investigation. In a brief hearing, U.S. District Judge George Russell asked him whether he had any questions about pleading guilty.


"No, sir," Barksdale replied. "I got busted."

Barksdale, 52, had been working with the city's Safe Streets anti-violence program in West Baltimore, and his arrest along with that of another outreach worker prompted city Health Department officials to temporarily suspend the program.

On Wednesday, the Health Department said the site's operations resumed last week, with increased training and new counseling opportunities for staff.

"While Safe Streets has been shown via scientific studies to be extremely effective in mediating community situations and preventing escalations of violence, the issue of alleged behavior of certain individual staff members needs to be addressed," the agency said in a statement.

Barksdale was a notorious criminal in the 1980s who led a violent heroin-dealing operation in the Murphy Homes public housing development and was shot more than 20 times. In the Baltimore crime drama "The Wire," drug dealer characters were named Avon Barksdale and Bodie Broadus.

He claimed to be out of the drug business and was hired to mediate conflicts with Safe Streets.

A Drug Enforcement Administration wiretap led to Barksdale's arrest in late November on charges that he purchased "wholesale quantities" of heroin from Suraj Tairu.

Police raided Barksdale's home on Liberty Heights Avenue and found two loaded guns, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Wallner said.

Tairu is scheduled to be in court next week for a rearraignment. Barksdale will be sentenced in April.