Baltimore, Maryland – Joseph Grigsby, age 51, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office.
According to his guilty plea, from April 2020 to November 2020, Grigsby was a member of a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that distributed large quantities of fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine in and around the Baltimore area. Grigsby worked as a narcotics tester and transporter for the DTO by traveling to New York to obtain heroin and to Philadelphia to obtain cocaine on behalf of the DTO. Upon his return to Baltimore, Grigsby delivered narcotics to the DTO leader.
In late June 2020, federal agents assigned to the Baltimore Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force began intercepting electronic and wire communications occurring over multiple cellphones used by the DTO leader. For example, on July 25, 2020, agents intercepted several of the DTO leader’s conversations in which he discussed obtaining three kilograms of cocaine from a supplier for one of the DTO’s mid-level cocaine distributors. In the conversation with the mid-level DTO distributor, the DTO leader agreed to obtain three kilograms of cocaine and sell the cocaine to the DTO distributor for $41,000 per kilogram. Later that day the DTO leader communicated with Grigsby and told him to prepare for the drive to Philadelphia to obtain the cocaine supply and sent Grigsby the address of the supply location in Northwest Philadelphia. The DTO leader and a co-conspirator (Co-conspirator 1) subsequently drove to Grigsby’s residence to meet Grigsby, and another individual (Individual 1). In two separate vehicles, the pair drove to the agreed-upon supply location in Northwest Philadelphia, obtained at least two kilograms of cocaine, and traveled back to Maryland. Following the drug transaction, the DTO leader, Grigsby, Co-conspirator 1, and Individual 1 traveled to an Owings Mills, Maryland gas station where agents observed Grigsby transfer a box that contained two kilograms of cocaine into the car in which the DTO leader was operating.
In addition to his work as a narcotics transporter, Grigsby also tested narcotics for the DTO. For example, in an intercepted call with the DTO leader on November 12, 2020, Grigsby provided a quality assessment of a drug sample. In this conversation, Grigsby stated that the sample was a “7.5 out of 10” and that the sample was “good” in his opinion.
As stated in Grigsby’s plea agreement, on November 16, 2020, law enforcement executed a search and seizure warrant at the DTO leader’s stash apartment where investigators located digital scales, hydraulic presses, packaging materials, and approximately 218 grams of a mixture containing multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl and heroin.
Grigsby faces a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years in prison followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for June 24, 2022, at 2 p.m.
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.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the DEA and FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey J. Izant, who is 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 https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach and click on “Save A Life – Opioid Abuse”.
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