For Immediate Release
Member of Violent Baltimore Drug Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges, Including Murder
Admits His Involvement in a Murder and a Shootout Where an Unarmed Bystander was Shot; Faces Likely Sentence of 20 to 25 Years in Federal Prison
Baltimore, Maryland – Justin Antoine, a/k/a Justo, age 24, of Baltimore, Maryland, a member of a drug trafficking organization operating in Southwest Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to the federal charges of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and to discharging a firearm resulting in death during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. In addition to the murder, Antoine admitted to being part of a shoot-out where a bystander was shot.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.
“Federal, state, and local law enforcement are working together to target members of violent drug gangs operating in Baltimore City,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “Justin Antoine’s activities demonstrate how this drug trafficking organization brought danger to our community through the deadly combination of guns and drugs. Now Justin Antoine likely faces at least 20 years in federal prison, where there is no parole—ever. Please, put down the guns and save a life—maybe even your own.”
“Today’s guilty plea represents how law enforcement agencies are working together in the state of Maryland to target and dismantle violent street gangs that threaten the safety and stability of our neighborhoods,” said FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone. “The citizens of Maryland have the FBI’s commitment that we will work with our local, state and federal partners to attack these dealers and remove violent criminals from their neighborhoods.”
According to his plea agreement, from at least April 2018 through January 2019, Antoine participated in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) operating in and around the Edmondson Village neighborhood of southwest Baltimore. The DTO sold heroin and crack cocaine on a daily basis in street-level quantities. Antoine regularly sold heroin and crack cocaine, which he obtained from other members of the DTO.
As detailed in his plea agreement, on several occasions in early 2018, individuals in the Edmondson Village robbed Antoine, stealing drugs, drug proceeds, and a cell phone that Antoine used to communicate with drug customers.
Antoine admits that on May 8, 2018, he sought out victim “J.D.” because Antoine believed J.D. was one of the participants in these robberies. Antoine was armed with a loaded pistol and went to the Mary Rodham Recreation Center. Once at the location, Antoine walked up to J.D. and shot him two times in the head, killing J.D. Antoine acknowledged that this was an intentional killing and occurred during and in relation to his drug trafficking activities. Following the murder of J.D., Antoine continued to distribute heroin and crack cocaine. In November 2018, Antoine was standing on the block where he frequently distributed drugs when a vehicle operated by friends of J.D. arrived. At least one occupant of that vehicle fired a gun at Antoine. Antoine was armed with a handgun and shot back at the vehicle. During this exchange of gunfire, a bystander was struck by gunfire.
Law enforcement arrested Antoine on January 10, 2019, as he was traveling to work. Investigators seized a loaded firearm and heroin from Antoine. Antoine admits that he possessed the heroin with the intent to distribute the drugs.
Antoine and the government have agreed that, if the court accepts the plea, Antoine will be sentenced to between 20 and 25 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm has scheduled sentencing for Antoine on March 18, 2021, at 12:00 p.m.
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. Project Safe Neighborhoods (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 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.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI, the ATF, and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation and thanked the Anne Arundel County Police Department for its assistance. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew DellaBetta and Michael Goldsticker, who are prosecuting the case.