Essex Man Pleads Guilty To Crack Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy
Hammond Supplied at least 112 Grams of Crack Cocaine to a Drug Trafficking Organization
Baltimore, MD – Joel William Hammond, age 35, of Essex, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least 28 grams of cocaine base.
The guilty plea was announced by Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Washington Division; Jonathan F. Lenzner, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland; Orville Greene, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA, Baltimore District Office; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; Sheriff Jeff Gahler of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office; and the Harford County Narcotics Task Force comprised of members of the Harford County Sheriff's Office, Aberdeen Police Department, Bel Air Police Department, Havre de Grace Police Department, and the Harford County States Attorney’s Office.
According to his guilty plea, the Harford County Narcotics Task Force undertook an investigation into a drug trafficking organization (DTO) distributing powder and crack cocaine in Harford County, Maryland. On February 4, 2020, the Harford County Narcotics Task Force received authorization from a Circuit Court County Judge to intercept wire and electronic communication of drug trafficking organization members.
Over the course of the investigation, detectives intercepted numerous drug-related communications over social media and phone calls. The intercepted communications identified Hammond as a drug supply source.
On March 7, 2020, task force detectives followed one of the DTO members to Hammond’s Essex, Maryland residence. Upon arrival, detectives observed members of the DTO make contact with Hammond. Following the meeting with Hammond, DTO members returned to Harford County. Detectives then observed one of the members of the DTO meet with several known drug users, following the meeting with Hammond. Detectives believe this to be consistent with this individual obtaining two to three ounces of crack cocaine from Hammond, the source of supply for the DTO.
Hammond met with members and customers of the DTO on at least 10 occasions between March and April 2020. Specifically, on March 31 detectives intercepted a series of communications indicating that a member of the DTO planned to meet Hammond to obtain crack cocaine. Investigators learned that Hammond sold approximately one ounce of crack cocaine to the individual during the meeting.
On April 21, 2020, investigators intercepted communication that indicated that Hammond and a DTO member were to meet later that day. Detectives observed Hammond and the DTO member make contact at Hammond’s residence. Soon after, the DTO member proceeded to drive back to Harford County. As the DTO member returned to Harford County, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team and Harford Narcotics Task Force searched the member’s vehicle during a traffic stop pursuant to a search warrant.
As a result of the search, law enforcement discovered two plastic bags of a white substance as well as U.S. currency. One of the bags contained a white rock-like substance that was similar to powder cocaine that had been directly cut off a kilogram of pressed cocaine. In total, the substance was 16 grams in weight. The second bag was an off-white rock-like substance that law enforcement determined to be crack cocaine. The total weight of the bag was 41 grams. Both substances tested positive for the presence of cocaine. The combined weight of the two bags was 57.9 grams.
On April 22, 2020, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Hammond’s residence and seized a small quantity of crack cocaine.
If the Court accepts the plea agreement, Hammond will be sentenced to six years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for October.
SAC Jarod Forget commended the Harford County Narcotics Task Force, the Baltimore County Police Department, the U.S. Attorney's Office of Maryland, and the Harford County States Attorney’s office for their work in the investigation.