By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 17, 2009
A former District police officer is among a dozen men charged in a cocaine ring based in Southern Maryland that netted more than $1.5 million, authorities said Wednesday.
Darrell Alphonso Carter, 42, of Abell, Md., and 11 co-defendants are charged in federal court in Greenbelt with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Carter was hired as an officer in 1990 and resigned in November 2002, a District police spokeswoman said.
During raids this month on sites in Prince George's, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties, authorities seized about $200,000 in cash, 11 cars, including a Lexus sport-utility vehicle and a BMW 525, motorcycles worth $50,000, and high-end jewelry that included several Rolex watches. A drag-racing car and two engines also were seized, officials said.
The investigation, a partnership between local and federal authorities, is part of a larger effort to dismantle the drug trade across Southern Maryland. Since 2006, 33 people have been convicted of drug-related crimes as a result, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said.
Authorities said the ring operated in St. Mary's, Calvert, Charles and Prince George's counties between November 2006 and this month. Investigators used wiretaps, electronic surveillance and old-fashioned detective work to make their case.
A federal grand jury in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt handed down the indictment Sept. 2, but it was kept secret until the men were arrested. According to the indictment, the men dealt in powder and crack cocaine.
Charles County Sheriff Rex Coffey, who used to work in narcotics, said the investigation will make a significant dent on the drug trade in his community.
"I feel like we've severely impacted it, but there's a lot of work to do," Coffey said. "I've seen people get 60,000 or 70,000 in an insurance settlement and go through that in a month or two with a cocaine problem."
Officials released few details about the inner workings of the ring, saying the investigation is continuing. But Rosenstein said the goal of the prosecution is to cripple rings by targeting every level, from the leaders down.
"If you catch one drug dealer and send him to jail, he can be replaced very easily," Rosenstein said. "If you take out the whole organization, you can really have an impact."
If the men are convicted, the government will seek forfeiture of $1.5 million in alleged drug proceeds, officials said.
The defendants include Rodney M. Estep, 33, of Mechanicsville, who goes by the nickname "Barney Fife"; Shawne T. Whittington, 29, of Waldorf; Anthony L. Taylor, 41, of Lusby; Anthony M. Thomas, 49, of Waldorf; Glenn E. Buckler Jr., 34, of Mechanicsville; Jonathan L. Chase, 35, of California, Md.; Nathaniel C. Ford, 39, of Waldorf; Donald A. Townsend, 31, of Bushwood; James W. Ball Jr., 34, of Great Mills; Travis J. Mills, 21, of Hollywood, Md.; and Christopher T. Brown, 39, of Capitol Heights.