Baltimore, Maryland – In the last week, U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has sentenced three members of the Monument Street drug trafficking organizations to at least five years in federal prison related to their roles in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and/or fentanyl in the Monument Street area of East Baltimore. Specifically, on March 4, 2021, Judge Hollander sentenced Tony Solomon, age 55, of Baltimore, to 10 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. On March 9, 2021, Judge Hollander sentenced Perez Scruggs, age 25, and Noah Walston age 30, both of Baltimore, to 65 months and five years in federal prison, respectively, each followed by three years of supervised release. Scruggs had previously pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy and to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Walston pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy and to being a felon in possession of a firearm. A fourth co-defendant, Windeer Washington, age 45, of Baltimore is scheduled to be sentenced on March 12, 2021. Washington and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts his plea agreement, Washington will be sentenced to three years in federal prison.
The sentences were announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; 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.
“The Baltimore OCDETF Strike Force is a critical part of our strategy to make Baltimore safer by identifying and focusing on those groups responsible for the most violent crime in our city,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “The Monument Street area is one of the first areas the Strike Force has targeted and we anticipate that Strike Force cases will make these neighborhoods safer for the law-abiding citizens that live there.”
According to their guilty pleas, 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”).
As detailed in their plea agreements, investigators identified Solomon as a source of supply in the conspiracy; identified Scruggs and Washington as wholesale drug customers; and identified Walston as a drug distributor. Walston also operated another street level shop in the 800 block of North Milton, in conjunction with the OTM shop. On numerous occasions law enforcement intercepted calls in which the defendants discussed the distribution of drugs, including powder cocaine and crack cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl, among others.
Solomon admitted that he maintained at least two stash locations used for storing, cutting, and packaging controlled dangerous substances with other members of the conspiracy, located in the 1600 block of North Spring Street and the 3200 block of Brighton Street, both in Baltimore. Solomon conspired with coconspirators to use the North Spring Street location to meet with drug customers for the purposes of collecting money and providing controlled substances to them.
In January 2019, law enforcement executed search warrants at both stash locations, and at residences associated with Solomon, recovering a total of approximately 200 grams of crack cocaine, five grams of powder cocaine, and 147 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture; drug paraphernalia, including a small hydraulic press, small and large kilo presses, digital scales, gel caps, and packaging materials; more than $41,000 in cash, believed to be drug proceeds; and a loaded .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol with eight .45-caliber cartridges, which Solomon admitted he possessed in connection to his drug trafficking activities.
As detailed in their plea agreements, on January 2, 2019, investigators executed a search and seizure warrant at Washington’s residence in the 2900 block of McElderry Street in Baltimore, where they recovered approximately 118 grams of cocaine and fentanyl mixture and 34 grams of crack cocaine, a small hydraulic press and mail in Washington’s name. On May 23, 2019, investigators executed a search warrant at Scruggs’ residence in the 2400 block of Woodbrook Avenue in Baltimore. Investigators seized approximately 255 grams of a mixture containing cocaine; an electric scale with drug residue; and three firearms and ammunition. Specifically, law enforcement recovered a .22 caliber semi-automatic long rifle; a 12 gauge shotgun pump action, with no serial number; a 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun with an extended magazine and five 12 gauge cartridges mounted on the side of the weapon; and six 9mm cartridges, as well as one additional 12 gauge shotgun shell found in a china cabinet. Washington and Scruggs admitted that they possessed the drugs with the intent to distribute them for sale.
Additionally, on June 9, 2020, Baltimore Police officers (BPD) attempted to initiate a traffic stop of Walston in the area of the 200 block of North Caroline Street in Baltimore. However, the vehicle failed to stop, and attempted to speed away to evade law enforcement. Due to high traffic, the vehicle could not escape the officers, and the driver, later identified as Walston, fled the vehicle, throwing a black gun away with his right hand as he ran. The gun, a 9mm Luger semi-automatic pistol, loaded with six rounds of ammunition, was later recovered in the same area that Walston was observed throwing the gun.
Solomon, Scruggs, and Walston are all prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition as a result of previous felony convictions.
Throughout the course of their involvement, it was reasonably foreseeable to Solomon and Scruggs, and within the scope of the conspiracy that they or other members of the conspiracy would distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, as well as quantities of cocaine base, heroin, and fentanyl during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy. It was reasonably foreseeable to Washington, and within the scope of the conspiracy that he would distribute between 500 grams and two kilograms of cocaine, as well as quantities of cocaine base and fentanyl, during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy. It was reasonably foreseeable to Walston, and within the scope of the conspiracy that he or other members of the conspiracy would distribute more than 280 grams of cocaine base (“crack”), as well as quantities of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy.
Of the 25 defendants indicted in this case, 14—including Solomon, Scruggs, Walston, and Washington—have pleaded guilty. The remaining defendants have trial dates in May or November 2021.
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.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the DEA and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys LaRai Everett and James T. Wallner, who are prosecuting the case.
# # #