Crime, Police/Fire

Members of drug trafficking ring sentenced to over 9 years in prison for Baltimore County cocaine distribution conspiracy

BALTIMORE, MD—Several men who were members of a drug trafficking ring are being sent prison after distributing cocaine in Baltimore County.

U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has sentenced Tony Lee Bauer, 39, of Baltimore, 110 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine as well as possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

Judge Russell also sentenced co-defendant Rondell Ronald Hackett, 43, of Middle River, to 138 months in federal prison for the same charge.  Hackett had pleaded guilty to the charges in March 2020.

The sentences were announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.

According to Bauer and Hackett’s plea agreements, in December 2017, HSI and the Baltimore County Police Department were investigating a drug trafficking organization in Baltimore County. Bauer was identified as a member of the organization, along with Rondell Ronald Hackett, Aaron Kenith Waller, Gary Gaines-Hidalgo, Adrian Gilberto Herrera-Diaz, and Carlos Alejandro Castro-Castro.

In December 2017, Gaines arranged to purchase kilograms of cocaine for $26,500/kilogram from a confidential source (CS), who was working with law enforcement. Thereafter, Gaines arranged to resell the cocaine to Herrera for $28,000/kilogram. Gaines and Castro arranged to have 10 kilograms of cocaine delivered to them in Baltimore.

As detailed in their plea, on January 26, 2018, Gaines and Castro entered the United States from Mexico, then traveled to Baltimore. Gaines and Castro agreed to sell three kilograms of cocaine to Herrera, Bauer, and Waller, with additional sales of kilograms of cocaine to follow the initial purchase. Gaines agreed to meet the CS in the parking lot of a Baltimore hotel, and told Herrera, Bauer, and Waller to also meet him there.

Three cars arrived at the agreed-upon location, one driven by the CS. Hackett drove one vehicle with Herrera in the front passenger seat and Gaines in the driver’s side rear passenger seat. Waller drove the third vehicle, with Bauer in the front seat and Castro in the rear passenger seat. Bauer, Herrera, and Gaines exited their vehicles and met with the CS. The CS then opened the trunk of his car, which contained two kilogram-shaped packages, one of powder cocaine and one kilogram of “sham,” or fake narcotics. Gaines placed his hand in the bag containing the packages and members of HSI and the MSP Tactical Team approached. Hackett and Waller attempted to drive away, but were stopped. In Hackett’s car, a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol was recovered from the center console and a loaded .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol was recovered from the rear passenger-side floor of the vehicle. On the rear seat was a vinyl bank bag containing bank-banded cash and a white bag containing cash. A search of Bauer also recovered banded-up amounts of cash. Bauer and Hackett knowingly possessed the .45 caliber firearm to advance the objectives of the conspiracy. In all, law enforcement recovered $129,583 in cash from the defendants, their vehicles, and their residence.

Gary Gaines-Hidalgo, 28, and Carlos A. Castro-Castro, 36, both of Baja California, Mexico, pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison.

Aaron Kenith Waller, 52, of Crofton, previously pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy and was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison.

Adrian Herrera-Diaz, 29, of Baltimore County, is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III on July 20, 2021 at 10 a.m.

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