Menard Hazelwood and Donte Smith picked the wrong drug addicts to rob last year in West Baltimore.
Their intended victims weren’t addicts, but two federal agents buying heroin undercover. Hazelwood and Smith pulled guns on the agents and demanded cash, only to find themselves chased and arrested. Smith was shot.
On Tuesday, both men appeared in federal court in Baltimore and admitted to their crimes.
Hazelwood, 29, of Shipley Hill in Southwest Baltimore, pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal officer and brandishing a gun during a violent crime. He faces seven to 15 years in federal prison.
Smith, 33, of Brooklyn in South Baltimore, admitted to a judge that he tried to rob the agents. But he asked for changes to his written plea agreement. In court, he said he wanted the plea agreement to say he had dropped his gun and was shot by the agents while unarmed. He’s due back in court Friday .
U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert Hur praised the agents in a statement online.
“This case demonstrates how drug trafficking can lead to violence. The defendants thought they were robbing drug customers. Unfortunately, this occurs all too often in Baltimore,” Hur wrote.
The agents were working undercover for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and arranged to buy $2,000 worth of heroin through a confidential informant last year. The informant put them in touch with the drug dealer, someone authorities identified only as “KM.”
On May 26, 2017, the agents picked up KM, who told them to drive to the 2700 block of W. Baltimore St. and meet the heroin supplier. Once there, KM got out and told the agents to wait, prosecutors say.
Then Hazelwood and Smith walked up to the car, pointed handguns at the agents and demanded money. Both men admitted to the attempted robbery.
The agents’ car had been outfitted with video cameras and recording devices. They gave a distress signal to a backup unit waiting a few blocks away. Additional agents arrived and ordered Hazelwood and Smith to drop their guns. A scuffle ensued and the men ran off.
Smith dropped his gun, he told the court. But agents said they believed he was still armed, and they shot him multiple times, prosecutors say. He appeared in court unassisted Tuesday, showing no outward signs of his injuries.
Hazelwood is scheduled for sentencing in March. He said little in court, just answering the judge’s questions.
He admitted, with his plea agreement, to not knowing his intended victims were federal agents.