As FBI agents investigating the Black Guerrilla Family gang closed in on a new round of suspects in the Baltimore jail corruption case this fall, one of their targets packed his bags and left the country.
Derrick Jones, a corrections department K-9 officer, was shipping out to Afghanistan with the Maryland National Guard. Now authorities are faced with the unusual challenge of how to get him back to Baltimore for trial.
One of 14 corrections officers named in charges unsealed last month, Jones stands out because of his long military record as well as his seniority at the Baltimore City Detention Center. In intercepted phone calls, gang leader Tavon White allegedly described Jones as his “homeboy.”
Jones, who lives in Aberdeen, Md., has been accused of smuggling cellphones into the jail for White and other inmates over several years. The FBI contends that the phones were a vital tool as gang members arranged to bring items such as cigarettes and drugs into the jail and send the proceeds onto the street.
The FBI said Jones made $3,000 to $5,000 a week smuggling banned items for a single unnamed inmate.
That far exceeded Jones’s combat pay in Central Asia, which was several hundred dollars a month. In Afghanistan, Jones is earning about $6,000 per month in base salary and other pay, according to a military spokesman. As a corrections officer, he made about $3,300 a month in base pay, according to state records from 2011.
The 1229th Transportation Company, in which Jones holds the rank of staff sergeant, deployed to Afghanistan in mid-
October. He had been promoted in August and has been in the military since 1991.
Lt. Col. Charles S. Kohler, a Maryland National Guard spokesman, said the military was surprised by the charges. He did not say how officials would handle the case.