Drug Distributor for East Baltimore Monument Street Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to More Than Five Years in Federal Prison

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Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced Brian Blackston, age 32, of Baltimore, yesterday to 70 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine in the Monument Street area of East Baltimore. 

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.

According to Blackston’s plea agreement, in July of 2018, Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) Strike Force Group 1 began an investigation of the Monument Street corridor in East Baltimore, which is known to support a high volume of street-level drug distribution and acts of violence associated with the drug trafficking.  During the investigation, law enforcement identified multiple street-level drug trafficking “shops,” with the two most prominent located in the 400 block of North Montford Avenue at Jefferson Street (“the Montford DTO”) and in the 2400 block of East Monument Street at Port Street (the “Out the Mud,” or “OTM DTO”). 

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As detailed in his plea agreement, investigators identified Blackston as a drug distributor for the OTM DTO who agreed with his co-conspirators to acquire and to assist in distributing controlled substances to others. Investigators conducted physical surveillance and intercepted calls between Blackston and his co-conspirators discussing the distribution of drugs, including cocaine, crack cocaine, fentanyl and heroin. 

Throughout the course of Blackston’s involvement in the conspiracy, it was reasonably foreseeable to Blackston, and within the scope of the conspiracy that he or other members of the conspiracy would distribute between 500 grams and two kilograms of cocaine, as well as quantities of crack cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl, during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy. 

Blackston is the final defendant to be sentenced of the 25 defendants charged as part of this investigation who either pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial.  

This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location.  This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks.  These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime.  The specific mission of the Baltimore OCDETF Strike Force is to reduce violent, drug-related, and gang crime in the Baltimore area and surrounding region.

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United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the DEA and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys LaRai Everett and James T. Wallner, who prosecuted the case.

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