Essex Man Sentenced to Six Years in Federal Prison for Crack Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett sentenced Joel William Hammond, age 35, Essex of Maryland, to six years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. 

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; Harford County State’s Attorney Albert Peisinger; 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. Over the course of the investigation, detectives intercepted numerous drug-related communications over social media and phone calls, which identified Hammond as a drug supply source. 

On March 7, 2020, task force detectives followed one of the DTO members who met with Hammond at Hammond’s residence in Essex, returned to Harford County.  Detectives then observed a member of the DTO meet with several known drug users. Detectives believe that the DTO member obtained two to three ounces of crack cocaine from Hammond, which were then sold to the DTO’s customers.

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 learned 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 drove back to Harford County. A traffic stop by the Harford County Sheriff’s office led to a search of the vehicle by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team and Harford Narcotics Task Force, after first obtaining a search warrant for the vehicle.

As a result of the search, law enforcement discovered two plastic bags, both containing a white substance, as well as $660 in cash. One of the bags contained 16 grams of a white rock like substance that was similar to powder cocaine that had been directly cut off a kilogram of pressed cocaine. The second bag contained an off-white rock-like substance that law enforcement determined to be 41 grams of crack 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.

Hammond agrees it is reasonably foreseeable that the conspiracy involved at least 112 grams but less than 196 grams of crack cocaine.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the DEA, the Harford State’s Attorney’s Office, the Harford County Narcotics Task Force, and the Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Romano who prosecuted the case.

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