The Maryland State Police recently announced one of the largest drug busts on the Eastern Shore over the last few years. On Tuesday a combined law enforcement initiative known as the Wicomico County Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant at the home of a suspected heroin dealer. Two suspects, a 33 year-old male and a 33-year-old female, were arrested after police found 2.5 pounds of heroin, with a street value of approximately $500,000. Law enforcement also seized over $100,000 in cash, scales, plastic baggies, drug paraphernalia, ammunition, and three firearms. One of the firearms was a .22 caliber automatic assault rifle with a high capacity magazine and an obliterated serial number that prevented it from being identified. The other two firearms were handguns that had been reported stolen. One was a .357 revolver taken from Somerset County, and the other was a .40 caliber semi automatic pistol with an illegal extended high capacity magazine. The pistol had been reported stolen from Worcester County. The male suspect is being held without bail at the Wicomico County Detention Center, while the female was released after posting a $25,000 bail. Both have preliminary hearings set in the District Court, which will likely be cancelled after the cases are presented to a grand jury.
The investigation of the male suspect began back in January of this year, and law enforcement soon realized that they were potentially dealing with a large-scale heroin distributor. The narcotics task force, made up of state and local police departments including the Salisbury and Fruitland police departments and the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, conducted extensive surveillance of the male suspect and the residence that was searched. Police likely used multiple confidential informants and undercover officers to maximize the amount of evidence used in securing the search warrant. Nobody was injured when the search warrant was carried out this week, although a dog was shot and killed when it allegedly ran toward an undercover officer in an aggressive manor.
Upon consulting with the State’s Attorney’s Office, police eventually charged the pair with multiple drug and weapon related felonies, some of which carry minimum mandatory prison sentences. Both are currently charged with a violation of the CDS possession of a large amount statute that is part of the state law against volume dealers. This law is particularly harsh when it comes to heroin and other opioids, as only 28 grams are required to trigger a large amount charge. For comparison sake the 2.5 pounds that police allegedly found in this bust amounts to over 1,100 grams. This statute provides a minimum punishment of 5 years in prison, which upon conviction cannot be suspended and defendants are not eligible for parole. The pair is also charged with three counts of possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime, and each of these charges also carries a minimum 5 years without parole. Other charges include possession with intent to distribute and illegal possession of a firearm. The male suspect is also charged with firearm possession by a convicted felon because he was found guilty of felony CDS distribution of narcotics in 2004.
The Blog will follow this case and may post a follow up article if any interesting developments occur. In the meantime stay tuned for our weekly takes on Maryland criminal law events and issues. Benjamin Herbst is a criminal defense lawyer who handles drug trafficking and firearm crimes in all jurisdictions. Contact Benjamin by phone at 410-207-2598 or email at Benjamin@mdtriallawyer.com for a free consultation anytime.
Wicomico Co. Drug Task Force Arrests Two and Recovers Heroin and Stolen Guns, news.maryland.gov.