The difficulty in testing synthetic drugs is slowing the prosecution
of suspects accused of possessing or selling the chemically engineered
substances, even as authorities blame them for a spike in violence and
overdoses, according to District officials.
Prosecutors with the U.S. attorney's office have been unable to charge
a number of people recently arrested, and many of them have had to be
released while officials await test results, city and federal
officials said. Police said they hope to charge them once testing is
[continues 930 words]
He Was Stealing Seized Evidence Even As Agency Was Hailing His Work
"How do you tell someone you've idolized your entire life that you're
a heroin addict?" Matthew Lowry, who kept his addiction hidden from
his father and others
Matthew Lowry was out of pills and getting desperate.
The doctor who prescribed pain medication to ease his chronic and
painful inflammation of the intestines had disappeared. He went to
clinics, but his wife had begun questioning the bills. He was
shaking, sweating, tired.
[continues 2360 words]
Here's the reality of the District's new law on legalized pot: Get
busted while also holding two ounces of marijuana or less, and D.C.
police will give it back to you.
It happened this week at the 6th District police station in Northeast
Washington. A man who had been arrested returned for the things that
police take before they cart you off to jail. Among this man's
possessions happened to be a small amount of marijuana - which police
now view as property to store rather than contraband to seize.
[continues 431 words]
FBI agent Matthew Lowry checked out Item 1B4 from the evidence room
at the bureau's Washington field office on an August morning in 2013.
He wrote "to lab" on a log sheet to explain why he was taking drugs
that had been seized in an undercover operation dubbed Midnight Hustle.
But it was nearly a year later when he delivered the drug package to
the lab. For 10 months, court records show, the heroin had gone
unaccounted for and unmissed. When the package made it back to the
FBI office in September, it weighed 1.1 grams more than when it had
[continues 1995 words]
28 Drug Indictments to Be Dismissed in Light of Probe
Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they will dismiss indictments
against 28 defendants in District drug cases amid an investigation of
an FBI agent accused of tampering with evidence, including narcotics
and guns, according to newly unsealed court documents.
Fourteen of those defendants have already pleaded guilty and were
serving sentences - one was a year into a 10-year term - and
prosecutors said they can withdraw their guilty pleas and the charges
would be dropped. A hearing is scheduled Friday in U.S. District
Court for many of the defendants. The stunning action by the U.S.
attorney's office came as authorities continue to scrutinize cases
that the agent, assigned to a D.C. police task force in the FBI's
Washington field office, may have been involved with. The agent, who
has not been charged criminally, has been suspended in what officials
describe as a misconduct investigation.
[continues 772 words]
Hours Before Relaxed D.C. Law Took Effect, Immediate Predicaments
Included a Jail Stay, Criminal Citations
A man arrested for allegedly smoking marijuana on a street in
Northwest Washington. Two people caught in a suspected drug deal near
Lincoln Heights in Northeast. A man questioned by police about the
scent of burnt pot. A former federal government official allegedly
smoking a joint as he drove through Chinatown.
The five are among those who were arrested hours before the
District's new drug law took effect midnight Thursday, making
possession of one ounce or less of marijuana subject to a civil
penalty instead of a crime. They were in various predicaments, from
allegedly smoking dope to perhaps selling it, and some went to jail
for the night while others were in handcuffs a few hours and then
released with criminal citations, neither of which might happen under
[continues 961 words]
Footnotes In Ruling By The State's Highest Court Explain Pop Culture
The marijuana smoke filled the Baltimore rowhouse in a "haze" that
"engulfed" the four people sitting around the kitchen table, all of
them within arm's reach of the smoldering remains of a "blunt" in an
One of the men appeared "groovy" and "relaxed" and was "just going
with the program."
It was, the state's highest court said in a ruling issued Friday,
"reminiscent of a scene from a Cheech & Chong movie."
[continues 521 words]
The way the attorney for the family suing Baltimore County describes
it, heavily armed paramilitary police officers carrying ballistic
shields and dressed in camouflage stormed a suburban Dundalk house
over trace amounts of drugs without knocking and fatally shot a
"devoted mother and wife" armed with a legally registered handgun to
defend herself from intruders.
The way the attorney defending the police officers and the county
describes it, professionally trained members of the SWAT team raided
a suspected narcotics den containing marijuana and cocaine that was
occupied by a convicted murderer with access to weapons and a
teenager who had just shot another youth in a fight, resulting in the
shooting of a woman holding a gun who refused to comply with the
[continues 521 words]
In Drug-Hit Areas, Few Seem Surprised
Virginia Johnson walked along Presstman Street on a crisp fall morning
yesterday, trying to satisfy her drug habit, ever vigilant for an
opportunity -- or for trouble.
The 49-year-old watches for the police officers she knows by nickname,
Super Cop and Creeper. And she knows the unwritten code of the street:
Don't be anywhere near an officer when a hidden stash of cocaine or heroin
"If you're in the area and they find drugs, it's yours," Johnson said.
"That's the way it works. Whoever is closest gets the charge."
[continues 1068 words]
Charges Dropped Against Man Arrested By Sewell; Caught In Sting Operation;
Prosecutors And Public Defenders To Examine Record
Prosecutors threw out drug charges yesterday against a man who was
arrested by a Baltimore police officer under indictment on corruption
charges, setting free a defendant accused of drug distribution and
At least 20 people locked up by Officer Brian L. Sewell may see their
The state's attorney's office said they will dismiss any case in which
Sewell is the primary arresting officer.
[continues 665 words]
Sen. Mitchell asks broad federal probe after officer's arrest; Civil rights
At least 20 people arrested by a Baltimore police officer charged with
planting evidence might have their cases thrown out by city prosecutors, and
the FBI said yesterday that it has begun a civil rights inquiry into the
The case also prompted the state's top public defender to order a review of
all past convictions in which defendants claimed police misconduct, which
could trigger scores of appeals from imprisoned drug dealers.
[continues 876 words]
Six-Year Veteran Is Charged After Undercover Sting; Crackdown On Corruption
A Baltimore police officer was charged with criminal misconduct yesterday
after authorities said he fell for a random, undercover sting and falsely
arrested a city resident on drug charges.
Officials said the case represents the first failure under random integrity
checks that are being conducted by Internal Affairs detectives and FBI
agents to rout out corruption under a new city police administration.
Officer Brian L. Sewell, a six-year veteran assigned to the Central
District, surrendered to authorities yesterday; he had been suspended since
the incident occurred last month.
[continues 917 words]
Convicted dealers can be held liable for related deaths; 'We take tiny
steps'; Defense lawyers say proving connections would be difficult
Families left grieving over the drug-related deaths of their loved ones have
a new way to fight back: They can sue the drug dealers who supplied the
The Drug Dealer Liability Act, passed by the Maryland General Assembly and
signed into law this year, took effect yesterday. Under the law, people
convicted of selling or distributing drugs can be held civilly liable for
deaths connected to the narcotics.
[continues 568 words]
Prosecutors fear entrapment claims will be successful; Cases seldom go
to trial; Police say they aim to make things difficult for suburban
A renewed campaign by Baltimore police to pose as drug dealers and
round up addicts is being met with skepticism by prosecutors who,
fearing claims of entrapment, are reluctant to take most cases to court.
Few of the more than 300 people arrested since June have been
convicted. Most of their cases have been thrown out before trial - the
only jail time being the hours spent waiting for an initial bail hearing.
[continues 1201 words]
42 Arrests Made; Links To Cartel In Colombia Noted; 'We'Ve Made Quite A Dent'
A violent East Baltimore cocaine organization with direct links to a
Colombian cartel has been dismantled, fulfilling the new police
commissioner's vow to go after top-level drug dealers, police said yesterday.
With a state judge's permission, city detectives broke the drug ring by
bugging the phones of suspected traffickers and eavesdropping on their
illegal activity. It was the department's first use of a high-tech
crime-fighting tool usually used by federal authorities, who in the past
led investigations such as the one announced yesterday.
[continues 939 words]
In Park Heights, Dealing Flourishes Despite Police Focus;
'It Has Just Shifted'
George Johnson and his friends like to talk about the futility of the
drug war, about how the street pushers and the addicts are at the
bottom of a flourishing business for which they go to jail and other
people make the money.
But the 54-year-old briefly stopped his discussion outside the Pimlico
library branch on Park Heights Avenue to direct the driver of a silver
car to the street where crack cocaine and heroin were being sold
[continues 1193 words]
Violence, Drug Deals Decline In Targeted Areas, Police Report
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's pledge to reclaim 10 drug-infested areas
within six months of taking office has been largely fulfilled, police said
yesterday, with crime down and fewer people complaining about dealers and
Homicides and shootings also dropped on streets surrounding the designated
drug markets, which police say shows they are not simply shuffling the drug
trade from one block to another.
"The liberation of Baltimore's neighborhoods has begun," O'Malley said
yesterday while standing at North Rose Street and Ashland Avenue, ground
zero for a band of frustrated residents who have confronted dealers.
[continues 1950 words]
Past Strategies Condemned For Raising
Violence, Suspicion; 'Justification For Lost Faith'
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley unveiled yesterday a much-anticipated
blueprint for fighting crime that concludes past policing strategies
contributed to violence and public hostility and suspicion.
"The persistence of high crime has undermined the public's confidence
in the Baltimore Police Department," the 152-page report by a team of
consultants concludes. "And there is justification for this lost faith."
The report was released as city government sources said O'Malley is
getting closer to naming Edward T. Norris, a former New York police
commander hired as deputy chief in January, as his choice for
[continues 1257 words]
Zero Tolerance Strategy Generates Fear For Rights
The era of feel-good policing is over in Baltimore.
Any doubt about that ended Friday when former New York police officer
Edward T. Norris was named acting commissioner of the city's police
force after the abrupt resignation of Ronald L. Daniel.
As a deputy commissioner hired by Daniel, Norris is a driving force
behind a new law and order regime being modeled on crime-fighting
strategies of the New York Police Department.
[continues 1927 words]
Police, residents work to improve life in Pen Lucy
There are many ways to measure what has made Pen Lucy a safer
neighborhood. Statistics show crime is down. Residents note the
streets are virtually clear of gun-toting drug dealers and glassy-eyed
addicts. No one has been shot since October.
But there is another way people here keep track of the violence that
for years held this pocket of North Baltimore captive as two gangs
battled for control of the lucrative cocaine trade.
[continues 1008 words]