For Immediate Release
Baltimore Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Rob Undercover ATF Special Agents at Gunpoint During a Purported Drug Deal
In a Separate Case, Another Baltimore Man is Sentenced to 7 Years in Federal Prison for Possession of a Loaded Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime
Baltimore, Maryland – Donte Smith, age 33, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to assault of a federal officer and brandishing a firearm in the course of a crime of violence, in connection with the May 26, 2017, assault on two undercover Special Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
In a separate case, U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III sentenced Sean Lloyd, age 26, of Baltimore, to seven years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for possession of a loaded firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. There is no parole in the federal system.
The guilty plea and sentence were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada of the ATF Baltimore Field Division; and Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle.
"These cases highlight the connection between drug trafficking and gun violence. Both defendants’ gun crimes arose from drug trafficking—one to rob drug customers, and the other to protect his drug dealing. Unfortunately, in Baltimore drug dealers bring violence into their communities every day. With our law enforcement partners, we are targeting drug dealers to get drugs and guns off our streets," said United States Attorney Robert K. Hur. "The undercover ATF agents, like all the law enforcement officers that work to identify and disrupt drug dealers, put their lives on the line every day. We are grateful for their service and sacrifice."
"We are thankful every day that our dedicated Special Agents were unharmed in this attempted robbery," said ATF Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Cekada. "ATF focuses our efforts in Baltimore on drug trafficking crews that use firearms to maintain and expand their turf. Special Agents risk their personal safety each time they infiltrate a criminal organization, yet they do this because they know the importance of their mission to protect the community from these violent criminals."
DONTE SMITH PLEA
According to Smith’s plea agreement, on May 26, 2017, during an ATF undercover operation, Smith and his co-defendant, Menard Hazelwood, attempted to rob two ATF undercover Special Agents (UCs), who were working with a confidential informant (CI) to purchase $2,000 worth of heroin from a
known heroin dealer. The UCs and the CI had picked up the heroin dealer, with one UC driving and the other UC in the front passenger seat, then drove to a location in West Baltimore to meet with the dealer’s supplier. The dealer got out of the car and told the CI and the UCs to wait; Smith and Hazelwood immediately walked up to the vehicle. Smith asked the UCs for a light and Hazelwood took advantage of the distraction and pointed a gun at the UC in the passenger seat. Smith then pointed a silver revolver at the other UC. Smith and Hazelwood demanded money. The UCs told Smith and Hazelwood, who continued to hold them at gunpoint, that there was cash in the vehicle. The UCs then gave the distress signal to the covert ATF team that was monitoring the operation. As the covert team arrived on the scene, the agents ordered Smith and Hazelwood to put their hands up. Smith fled, and the responding ATF Special Agents fired their service weapons, striking Smith. Hazelwood also broke away and ran to a nearby car, but was not able to get into the car. Special Agents arrested him at the scene.
Agents recovered the .44-caliber revolver brandished by Smith during the robbery, but did not recover the gun used by Hazelwood. Smith and Hazelwood admitted that they each participated in the robbery, but did not know that the undercover Special Agents were federal agents at the time of the robbery.
Smith and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreements, Smith will be sentenced to between seven and 15 years in prison. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has scheduled sentencing for March 29, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. Menard Hazelwood, age 29, of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to the same charges and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 29, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. SEAN LLOYD SENTENCING
According to Lloyd’s plea agreement, on January 9, 2018, Lloyd was seen on Baltimore Police Department (BPD) surveillance cameras engaging in a hand-to-hand drug sale in the 2500 block of East Biddle Street in Baltimore. Shortly thereafter, BPD officers stopped Lloyd inside a nearby liquor store. Officers recovered a plastic bag containing three gel capsules of heroin; seven plastic containers of crack cocaine; and a loaded gun from Lloyd. As detailed in his plea, Lloyd had the gun for protection while he was dealing drugs.
These cases are 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. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the ATF for its work in both investigations and the Baltimore Police Department for its work in the Lloyd case. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia C. McLane, who is prosecuting the Smith case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew DellaBetta, who prosecuted the Lloyd case.
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