For Immediate Release
Baltimore Man Facing Federal Indictment for Use of a Firearm Resulting in Death During and in Relation to a Drug Trafficking Crime and Related Charges
According to Court Documents, the Defendant Allegedly Kidnapped and Killed a Marijuana Trafficker With Whom He Was Doing Business
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury yesterday returned an indictment charging Ziyon Thompson, age 21, of Baltimore, Maryland, for interference with commerce by extortion, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and for use of a firearm resulting in death during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, in connection with the murder of an alleged marijuana trafficker.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.
According to the three-count indictment and other court documents, from March 2022 through May 2022, Thompson conspired with others, including three individuals in California, to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.
The indictment and other court documents allege that on May 8, 2022, Thompson kidnapped the victim, who was one of the individuals he conspired with in California to traffic large quantities of marijuana from California to Maryland. The victim had traveled to Maryland to meet with Thompson to discuss their business. Court documents allege that after kidnapping the victim, Thompson “FaceTimed” one of the victim’s associates in California, filmed the victim, who was bound and gagged, and demanded 200 pounds of marijuana and $50,000 for the safe return of the victim.
As detailed in court documents and alleged in the indictment, after not receiving the demanded ransom, Thompson shot the victim, killing him. Firefighters responding to a house fire in a vacant residence in the 300 block of Furrow Street in Baltimore discovered the burnt body of the victim. Baltimore Police Department homicide detectives recovered a gas can and shell casings in the residence and Baltimore Fire Department investigators ruled that the fire was intentionally set.
If convicted, Thompson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for interference with commerce by extortion and for the drug conspiracy; and a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison for use of a firearm resulting in death during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Thompson is detained in federal custody and is expected to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), 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, an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime, is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work 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.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia C. McLane, who is prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psnexile and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.