By Guy Leonard, County Times
HOLLYWOOD, Md. (July 17, 2008)—Wendell Ignatius Ford, 44, a reputed longtime narcotics trafficker who local and federal authorities say was a major player in a drug distribution network throughout the East Coast, will spend the next 97 months in federal prison for his crimes.
Ford received his sentence July 12 from U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus, along with five years of supervised probation after his release.
Ford, along with 13 other conspirators who have either pleaded guilty to drug charges or been sentenced to federal prison, was part of a narcotics distribution network that operated mainly in St. Marys County from 1999 to 2006, according to information from the office of U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
During that period, Ford, along with other local conspirators such as Kevin Darnell Dyson, 36, of St. Marys City and Corey Butler, 35, of Mechanicsville, brought powdered cocaine to St. Marys from various sources in Maryland and North Carolina where it was processed into crack cocaine. Ford, Dyson and others then distributed the cocaine to customers according to information from Rosensteins office.
The conspirators also sold powdered cocaine as well, federal authorities stated.
Lt. Daniel Alioto, commander of the Vice/Narcotics Unit of the St. Marys County Bureau of Criminal Investigations said Fords sentencing rounded out the case of one of the largest local cocaine distribution networks in recent history.
They all had a huge role in distributing drugs to our county, Alioto told The County Times. But it had arms and tentacles that went to New Jersey and North Carolina.
Alioto said local investigators caught on to the drug distributing operation before there was a Bureau of Criminal Investigations and with federal resources brought in, the case became a coup for local detectives and federal law enforcement alike.
It was something [the investigation] that started right here in the sheriffs office, Alioto said. This is a home grown investigation
thats what makes it so satisfying.
We [local and federal law enforcement] really kicked them in the teeth on this one.
According to press releases regarding Fords plea agreement, Ford was convicted of distributing five kilograms or more of cocaine as well as 50 or more grams of crack cocaine, but Alioto said the quantities might have been much greater.
His conviction is what it is, Alioto said. It validates what law enforcement has said about him for 10 years: hes a drug dealer, hes a huge player.
His prison sentence means that much less [drugs] is going to be on the street.
Dyson was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison back in May for his role in the trafficking conspiracy and federal authorities believed he was the leader of the local network.
Law enforcement agents intercepted phone calls from Dyson in which he spelled out events of a shooting in which he took part when two people broke into his home. From the conversations, detectives were able to get a search warrant for Dysons residence that uncovered a .44 caliber revolver, 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition and cocaine residue.
Another search at a home used by Dyson to process the crack cocaine resulted in several firearms and associated ammunition being found.
Also sentenced in the conspiracy were Terry Barba, 36, of Newark, New Jersey to 20 years in federal prison, Edwin Elton Johnson, 33, of Lexington Park sentenced to 86 months, Butler who received an 84-month prison term, and Terrance J. Brooks, 25, of Leonardtown who received 78 months in prison.
Seven other conspirators from St. Marys and one from Calvert were also convicted and sentenced as part of the trafficking network in the past year.