Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Bernard Carolina, age 41, of Baltimore, to 12 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking. Judge Blake also ordered that Carolina forfeit the firearms and ammunition seized by law enforcement during the investigation, specifically, a .22 long rifle caliber revolver and six rounds of .22 caliber long rifle cartridges, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol with a matching magazine and 34 9mm rounds of ammunition.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD).
According to Carolina’s plea agreement and other court documents, on July 17, 2019, Baltimore Police Department units set up an operation in the 400 block of Robert Street to surveil and interrupt a high-volume drug shop. Before 7:30 a.m., a large group of people began to form a line. Jimmy Harper, carrying a black bag, exited from the rear of a basement apartment of a residence in the 1900 block of Eutaw Place. Harper gave several clear plastic bags that he took from the black bag to a man that officers believed was selling those drugs to customers nearby. Upon seeing the officers, Harper fled, but was located and arrested. Officers recovered approximately 124 gelcaps of a mixture containing fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl and a fully loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol from Harper. From a vacant home along the path of Harper’s flight, which law enforcement believed served as a stash house, detectives also recovered a black plastic bag containing approximately twenty clear plastic bags, each with 25 gelcaps containing white powder (a “pack”), as well as another black plastic bag with approximately six packs.
As detailed in the plea agreement, the next day, BPD detectives saw Carolina, who they believed ran the drug shop, exiting from the same rear basement apartment and carrying a black bag. Officers attempted to arrest Carolina on outstanding warrants, but Carolina fled and threw the black bag into an adjacent backyard. BPD officers arrested Carolina and recovered the bag, which contained 20 packs and matched the bag detectives recovered from the vacant house the day before. Officers learned that an unknown individual informed the line of suspected drug buyers that someone had been arrested and that they would not be “up,” which referred to the fact that the shop would not have any drugs to sell.
The detectives executed a search warrant at the basement apartment and recovered drug packaging materials, a digital scale with a white, powdery residue, as well as a blue and black canvas bag that contained four black bags tied shut. Each of the black bags contained 20 packs and matched the bags thrown by Carolina and recovered from Harper’s flight path. Two loaded firearms were also recovered from the canvas bag, a .22 long rifle caliber revolver with an obliterated serial number, loaded with six rounds of .22 caliber long rifle cartridges; and a 9mm semi-automatic pistol with a matching magazine loaded with 34 rounds of 9mm ammunition. In addition, law enforcement found a plastic bag with six gelcaps with white powder.
The BPD Drug Analysis Unit tested the substances within the total of approximately 2506 gelcaps recovered by law enforcement and determined that they contained both fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl. Carolina admitted that he intended to distribute those drugs.
Jimmy Harper, age 46, of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Judge Blake sentenced Harper to 78 months in federal prison and ordered that he forfeit the firearm and ammunition seized by law enforcement upon Harper’s arrest.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the FBI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie D. Podlesni and Jeffrey M. Hann, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao/md.
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