Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that 18 men had been arrested. Eighteen men had been charged, but only 15 were arrested on Jan. 15. Three more have since been apprehended. This version has been corrected.
Fifteen men were arrested Tuesday on charges of operating a drug ring that spanned four states, moving large quantities of of marijuana through Anne Arundel and Howard counties since 2010.
Authorities said perhaps 250 federal and local law enforcement agents arrested the alleged conspirators, seizing at least 30 vehicles, 60 pounds of marijuana, $300,000 in cash and 35 firearms.
Agents searched 23 residences and businesses: 17 in Maryland, five in New Jersey and one in California.
After a year-long investigation, authorities said, 18 men, most of them from Maryland, were indicted in connection with Krush NYC, an “eBay business” allegedly established as a front to deal drugs and launder the proceeds.
Operating under the name “202bigwheels,” Krush sold liquidated shoes, clothing and accessories online from a location in Jessup, also thought to be a marijuana-distribution center, authorities said.
The ring sold marijuana, prescription drugs, steroids, cocaine and other substances in Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio and California, authorities said. All 18 suspects are charged with drug conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to the Justice Department, and 14 are charged with money laundering conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Officials said the operation began to unravel when police found 590 grams of shrink-wrapped marijuana, a money-counting machine and other materials in Frederick B. Thomas’s car after the Glen Burnie resident, now 31, was in a January 2012 accident in Anne Arundel.
Further investigation led to Kerem “Kenny” Dayi, 40, of Gambrills, a California native who authorities said has family ties to marijuana growers.
Authorities identified Dayi as the group’s leader since April 2012, and they said he would receive marijuana — as much as 400 pounds at a time — from New Jersey and California and divide it between houses rented by himself and members of his organization.
Authorities described drops and parking lot handoffs involving stuffed plastic bags and backpacks.
They alleged that Dayi’s accomplices worked as wholesale distributors, brokering drug deals and laundering profits. Proceeds from marijuana sales were allegedly sewn into handbags and flown to California, affidavits said.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland, in a statement this week, said money was laundered by “smuggling bulk cash in cars; sending cash through the mail and commercial delivery services; structuring deposits into bank accounts and removing it from banks in other states; and by investing money into, and removing money from, otherwise legitimate businesses operated by members of the conspiracy.”
Officials are seeking a judgment of at least $10 million and the forfeiture of eight properties, 22 bank accounts, 24 vehicles, and the assets and inventory of three businesses, the U.S. attorney’s office said.