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12/10/2012

Baltimore heroin dealer pleads guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison on gun and drug charges

BALTIMORE – Keith James, 34, of Baltimore was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. to 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release after James pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

The guilty plea and sentence follow an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Baltimore Field Division and the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), with the assistance of the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office.

According to James' plea agreement, from January 2011 until March 2012, James participated in a conspiracy to distribute heroin. Specifically, James obtained bulk quantities of heroin, which he diluted using cutting agents such as mannitol, then divided into individual doses appropriate for street-level sales. James sold bulk quantities of these individual doses to others for further street sales.

On Jan. 28, BPD officers saw James seated in a vehicle in the 700 block of North Eden Street in Baltimore. After noticing that the vehicle's tag lights were not working, officers activated their emergency lights and attempted a traffic stop. James continued driving north, rolling through a stop sign, eventually pulling to the side of the street. Officers approached the vehicle, and James sped off with officers following. After the vehicle turned west onto East Chase Street, the officers saw James throw a handgun out the window. Officers continued their pursuit of James, ultimately stopping him and recovering a handgun holster from the car. Officers returned to the spot where James had thrown the handgun and recovered a loaded .40 caliber handgun, a magazine that had broken into several pieces, and four rounds of ammunition.

In the weeks following his arrest, HSI special agents were informed of James making several phone calls from jail discussing his illegal activity. James made several phone calls to friends and relatives seeking to have them process and sell heroin to help pay his legal and other bills, and to have others obtain and sell firearms on his behalf. Subsequently, HSI special agents developed enough probable cause to give to BPD officers to execute search warrants on James' residences.

On March 8, BPD officers and HSI special agents executed search warrants on two apartments in Baltimore used by James. Officers recovered heroin packaging materials and paraphernalia used in the distribution of heroin, .380 caliber, .40 caliber, .357 caliber and 9mm ammunition, a gun cleaning kit, a gun vault and paperwork for a storage unit on Park Heights Avenue in Baltimore.

The same day, a search warrant was executed at the storage unit. Officers recovered additional heroin packaging material; 12 guns, including one Norinco SKS, 7.62x39 caliber rifle and magazine; a loaded AR-15-style 5.56mm rifle; a loaded .40 caliber handgun; three loaded .45 caliber handguns; two loaded 9mm handguns, one with a high-capacity magazine with 31 rounds of ammunition; two .357 Magnum caliber revolvers, one of which was loaded; a .22 caliber revolver; and a 12-gauge black pistol grip shotgun. In addition, officers recovered two bullet proof vests, ammunition of various calibers, two holsters and two magazines.

James had previously been convicted of a felony and was prohibited from possessing guns and ammunition.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth S. Clark and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mushtaq Gunja.