Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III today sentenced Raheem Benjamin, age 27, of Baltimore Maryland, to eight years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute heroin.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; 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 his guilty plea, from February 2018 through May 7, 2019, Benjamin and other co-conspirators agreed to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl for a drug trafficking organization (DTO) known as “Lex Luthor.” The Lex Luthor DTO operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as an open-air drug shop in southwest Baltimore, typically selling gel capsules containing a mixture of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Benjamin’s responsibilities as a member of the DTO included distributing packs of these gel capsules to street-level distributors—who would then sell the gel capsules to paying customers—and collecting drug proceeds from those distributors in exchange for the packs.
On October 17, 2018, while monitoring surveillance from a pole camera, law enforcement saw Benjamin pull out a firearm. Officers with the Baltimore Police Department responded to arrest Benjamin, who fled, discarding the loaded firearm. Police immediately recovered the gun, a revolver loaded with six .22-caliber cartridges. Officers apprehended Benjamin shortly thereafter. Benjamin had a previous felony conviction and was prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.
As a result of the Benjamin’s day-to-day activities obtaining and supplying street-level distributors with narcotics, as well as from his conversations with other co-conspirators and general familiarity with the drug shop’s operation, Benjamin knew that members of the DTO would take possession of and distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl.
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.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the DEA and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Goldsticker, who prosecuted the case.
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