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Federal jury in Baltimore unable to reach verdict on drug charges against reputed dealer, convicts on gun count

A federal jury was unable to reach a verdict on drug counts against a man the U.S. Attorney’s Office called the “go-to man for cocaine and crack” along East Baltimore’s Monument Street corridor, but convicted him of a handgun offense that could send him to prison for up to 10 years.

Daniel Blue took the stand in his own defense, admitting he dealt marijuana, but not the cocaine he was charged with conspiring to distribute, according to his attorney William R. Buie III. Buie underscored to jurors that Blue was charged with being part of a drug conspiracy despite not being caught with drugs.

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“They’re prosecuting poor people with statutes intended to deal with organized crime, and it’s wrong,” Buie said after the trial.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said late Tuesday that they intend to re-try Blue on the drug allegations.

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Blue was among 25 people charged in 2019 as part of an investigation initiated a year earlier by the Baltimore Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Strike Force, made up an array of local and federal law enforcement agencies. Prosecutors said one of the drug crews was called “Out the Mud,” with another referred to as the Montford drug trafficking organization.

All but two defendants pleaded guilty, including Derek Crosby, an alleged “wholesale customer” of Blue who went to trial with him, only to plead guilty after two days of testimony.

Buie told jurors in opening statements that despite its intense investigative efforts, the government had failed to find drugs on his client. The evidence included undercover purchases, but none involving Blue.

“This is why we have jury trials,” Buie said.

When Blue was arrested, law enforcement did not recover drugs — “not even residue,” Buie said — but found two guns, his attorney conceded, and the jury convicted Blue on that charge.

But prosecutors said they had wiretapped phone calls and testimony from cooperators who “know what they did and how they did it.”

The trial was one of the first since U.S. District Court in Maryland resumed operations, and attorneys presented their cases from inside a plastic cubicle with a door, with attorneys separated by transparent partitions. Spectators could only observe over a video feed in another court room.

The case was the federal government’s second pass at Blue: A 2013 jury conviction was overturned by judges of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, who found that the government failed to present sufficient evidence. Blue was released in late 2015 after serving four years of a 10-year sentence.

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