Baltimore, Maryland – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced the comprehensive community outreach strategy that is part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program (PSN).  We are also announcing convictions in several federal cases involving firearms and fentanyl as examples of the enforcement prong of PSN. 

“The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland remains vigilant in the effort to reduce gun violence and the trafficking of controlled substances to ensure safer communities.  However, prosecution alone is not enough to combat the impact of guns and drugs throughout our communities.  Our strategy to reduce violent crime statewide not only focuses on the prosecution of violence and the distribution of deadly drugs but also on building community outreach and prevention efforts.  As part of these efforts, we are committed to providing returning citizens with re-entry resources to reduce the number of individuals cycling in and out of the criminal justice system,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron. “I encourage all returning citizens and their families to attend re-entry resource fairs in Baltimore and Prince George’s County where they can learn more about employment, housing, healthcare, and other support services.  Our mission is clear – we plan to not only prosecute crime, we plan to prevent it.”

In the effort to positively influence students, bring awareness to parents and educators, and encourage previous offenders to pursue a crime-free future, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland provides training and outreach to schools, as well as supports and participates in previous offender re-entry efforts including:

Re-Entry Resource Fairs:

On April 27, 2022, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland is co-hosting a re-entry resource fair from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Baltimore War Memorial located at 101 N. Gay Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21202.  This event will feature information for returning citizens and their families, including employment, educational, financial, health resources, and more helpful information.

On April 20, 2022, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland supported a re-entry resource fair hosted by the Bridge Center at Adam’s House and Employ Prince George’s.  This event featured information for returning citizens and their families, including employment, educational, financial, health resources, and more helpful information.

Gang Culture and Our Children: How You Can Make a DifferenceThis presentation examines the impact gang culture is having on our children and focuses on the negative influences that traditional, nontraditional, and hybrid gangs have on our youth.  It is designed by a certified Maryland Police and Training Commissions instructor and Gang Awareness trainer and meets the training mandates of the Maryland Safe Schools Act.

Project Safe Neighborhood/Project Safe Childhood Ballpark Outreach: During the summer of 2022, the United States Attorney’s Office and its federal law enforcement partners offer a wide range of prevention and intervention literature for youth.  Future outreach will include outreach at Frederick Keys, Delmarva Shorebirds, Aberdeen Ironbirds, and Bowie Baysox baseball games.

Our office is also available to assist local communities and groups in identifying federal and state grant resources; provide guest speakers on a wide variety of public safety issues, and help connect individuals and groups to assist and protect their communities.  For more information on our office’s community outreach programs, or for questions, please visit our community outreach page at https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

In addition to our commitment to community outreach and engagement as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, this program also brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders works together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally-based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.  Some highlights of the United States Attorney’s Office’s recent PSN prosecutions include:

United States v. Earl LeRoy Griffin Jr.: On April 19, 2022, Earl Leroy Griffin Jr., age 45, of Sunderland, Maryland was sentenced to 180 months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.  According to the evidence presented at his four-day trial, on September 5, 2019, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Griffin’s residence and on his vehicle as part of a drug investigation.  In Griffin’s locked vehicle, law enforcement recovered a stolen .40 caliber handgun, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana.  The vehicle was registered to Griffin.  When he was searched incident to his arrest, Griffin had the keys to his vehicle and $1,870 in cash in his pockets.  Griffin had four previous felony drug convictions and knew that as a result, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm and ammunition. 

United States v. Aaron Arthur Fields:  On April 1, 2022, Aaron Author Fields, age 33, of Baltimore, Maryland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and distribution of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl and to possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and cocaine.  According to his guilty plea, as the result of a Howard County fatal overdose, law enforcement discovered phone communications that indicated that an individual had made arrangements for the victim to purchase controlled substances from Fields.  Additionally, investigators recovered three grams of heroin, believed to have been purchased from Fields, from an individual during a traffic stop.  Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Field’s residence and recovered over 126 grams of cocaine, 28 grams of crack cocaine, and $1,911 in cash.  Fields admitted that he distributed controlled substances to Victim 1 and that the death of Victim 1 resulted.  Fields faces a maximum sentence of 240 months in federal prison for distribution of controlled substances and for the conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and face a maximum of 480 months in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine.  Fields are scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2022.

United States v. Zaid Rushdan:  In February 2022, Zaid Rushdan, age 41, of Oxon Hill, Maryland, pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute PCP and crack cocaine, and possession of stolen firearms.  Investigators determined that co-conspirators transported drugs and drug proceeds to facilitate Rushdan’s drug trafficking business after investigators observed their frequent trips to Rushdan’s apartment.  In February 2021, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Rushdan’s apartment and seized a number of items including over a gallon (4,486 grams) of PCP, approximately 299 grams of powder cocaine, approximately 31 grams of crack cocaine, seven handguns, two rifles, approximately 652 rounds of ammunition, and $14,485 in cash.  Rushdan also knew or had reasonable cause to believe, that four of the firearms were stolen.  Rushdan is expected to be sentenced to at least 121 months, but not more than 151 months in federal prison on May 5, 2022.

United States v. DeAundre Keys:  In February 2022, DeAundre Keys, age 35, of Lexington Park, Maryland, pleaded guilty to the distribution of fentanyl and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.  As stated in Keys’ guilty plea, Keys sold fentanyl to three individuals.  One of the three individuals became unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.  The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for Maryland concluded that the victim’s cause of death was fentanyl and alcohol intoxication.  During an executed search warrant on Keys’ apartment in March 2021, law enforcement recovered 30.07 grams of a mixture containing fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl, heroin, acetaminophen, 06-Monoacetylmorphine; drug paraphernalia, including a digital scale with fentanyl residue; a cutting agent; and plastic glassine baggies used for narcotics packaging and distribution; a Polymer 9mm handgun with a 30-round magazine containing 21 rounds of 9mm ammunition; one round of 9mm ammunition on the floor; two .40 magazines; an empty 30 round magazine; and $7,080 in cash, which were proceeds of Keys’ drug sales.  The seized firearm was a ghost gun—privately made with parts manufactured outside Maryland, which has no serial number and is not a registered firearm.  Keys knew that he had a previous felony conviction and was prohibited from possessing a firearm and/or ammunition.  Keys is expected to be sentenced to between 120 months and 144 months in federal prison on May 24, 2022.

United States v. Gibran Nelson-Smith:  In October 2021, Nelson-Smith, age 41, of Pikesville, Maryland, was sentenced to 228 months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute kilogram quantities of heroin, crack cocaine, and fentanyl.  In 2018 and 2019, Nelson-Smith exercised a supervisory role in a drug trafficking conspiracy that operated in and around the Baltimore area.  Nelson-Smith admitted that he endorsed the use of firearms by members of the organization to maintain security in the areas where drugs were being sold, and also endorsed the use or threatened use of violence by members of the organization to protect the drug sales activities of the organization.  As the result of an executed search warrant at Nelson-Smith’s residence, law enforcement recovered several firearms, cash, and multiple controlled substances containing heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine.  Nelson-Smith agreed that over the course of the conspiracy, he and his conspirators distributed at least a kilogram of heroin, at least a kilogram of crack cocaine, at least 250 grams of cocaine and at least 10 grams of fentanyl. 

United States v. Bobby Cannon:  In December 2021, Bobby Cannon, age 24, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to committing two murders and participating in the violent criminal conspiracy, the Normandy, Franklin, and Loudon (“NFL”) Criminal Enterprise.  As a member of the NFL enterprise, Cannon admitted to distributing over one kilogram of heroin, more than 400 grams of fentanyl, and more than 280 grams of crack cocaine.  Cannon and his co-conspirators also participated in violent criminal activities including murder, illegal firearm possession, witness intimidation and more. Specifically, in 2018, Cannon shot and killed an induvial on behalf of the NFL Criminal Enterprise (Victim 1).  Victim 1 was believed to have been a federal witness cooperating with law enforcement.  Cannon also shot and killed Victim 1’s girlfriend.  Further, Cannon planned and attempted to murder another individual (Victim 2) in exchange for money from the NFL Criminal Enterprise in January 2019.  Despite being shot y Cannon multiple times, Victim 2 survived the shooting.  However, Victim 2 sustained life-threatening injuries.  Cannon is expected to be sentenced to between 348 months and 432 months in federal prison on June 1, 2022.

These cases are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders works together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally-based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program, a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat gun crime that combines local, state, and federal law enforcement efforts; community outreach; and public awareness, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psnexile.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.


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