21 charged in West Baltimore heroin trafficking operation

Twenty-one people are federally charged in a heroin trafficking operation in a West Baltimore, authorities say

Twenty-one people have been charged in what city police and federal authorities allege was a heroin trafficking operation that conducted much of its business near a West Baltimore elementary school.

Authorities allege the defendants sold heroin in the area of Edmondson Avenue and North Pulaski Street, according to a statement from the state attorney general's office. Sixteen people are facing drug charges in Maryland; five others face federal charges.

Authorities say members of the organization sold heroin to undercover officers more than 30 separate times during an operation conducted between September and January.

All but one of the charged exchanges were within 1,000 feet of the Roots and Branches elementary school, authorities said.

The area had been targeted by city police and federal agents "as part of an ongoing effort to disrupt drug trafficking organizations in neighborhoods hardest hit by recent shootings, homicides, and gun violence," officials said in a statement.

William P. McMullan, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, lauded the partnership between ATF's Violent Crime Impact Teams and Baltimore Police. He said in a statement the arrests "serve as an example of how effective we can be working together to dismantle the violent criminal organizations who wreak havoc in our communities."

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis also praised "partnerships at the local, state, and federal level," and said in a statement "the illegal drug trade and the accompanying violence cannot be a part of our city's future."

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein noted the proximity of the alleged drug activity near the school. "We need to keep dangerous drug dealers out of the city schools and away from the nearby street corners," Rosenstein said in a statement.

Nine defendants who face state charges are in custody: Dontae Truitt, 34; Troy Reed, 45; Antonio Graham, 29; Andre Coates, 37; Mark Rice, 33; D'Andre Hoskins, 26; Kedrick Waters, 22; Brian Simpson, 30; Calvin Saunders, 35. In addition, two people facing federal drug charges are in custody: Adrian McFadden, 39 and Keyon Ross, 31.

Authorities did not name other 10 defendants — seven facing state charges and three facing federal charges — who are still at-large.

Several defendants in custody did not an attorney listed in online state or federal court records. For those who do, their attorneys did not return a request for comment.

Officials said those charged federally face a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison, and a maximum of 40 years, for conspiracy to distribute heroin, and up to 20 years for each count of distribution of heroin.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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