Baltimore's Gun Trace Task Force had built an impressive criminal empire but one tiny GPS tracker did these cops in
The City of Baltimore was not expecting a case quite like this one. A squad of elite police was caught robbing its own citizens and stealing thousands of dollars and re-selling confiscated drugs, as well.
Homeless men and construction workers were robbed, prisoners started claiming that they were being framed, and there was even a shed where ecstasy and heroin was being stored. This isn't the plot of a blockbuster Hollywood film, people. This event actually happened in March 2017 when seven out of eight men in the Gun Trace Task Force were arrested.
The BBC reported that the seven men ended up becoming the most corrupt police force in the USA and their lives fell apart around them. What was the crack in the case, you ask? To put it quite simply, it was one small GPS tracker that went unseen.
The cops who were arrested in March 2017 are: Wayne Earl Jenkins, Momodu Gondo, Evodio Hendrix, Maurice Ward, Jemell Rayam, Daniel Hersl, and Marcus Taylor.
All seven of them served in the special Gun Trace Task Force which was a part of the Baltimore Police Department. They were an elite plainclothes unit of the department that focused on handgun violations and also traced illegal firearms. Jenkins was the leader of the team and they worked as an active group in 2015 and 2016.
There was a lone soldier in the middle of all this fighting for the right causes. John Clewell was the eighth member of the task force and he was the only one to not be arrested. In fact, he was the one who helped the rest of his department bring down his corrupt colleagues.
The palace that the seven officers had built for themselves with their illegal activities started to crumble around them on October 19, 2015. This happened in the middle of an investigation into Aaron Anderson, a suspected heroin dealer.
Anderson and Antonio Shropshire, the rival dealer, were both based out of Baltimore and they were the ones supplying the majority of the heroin to Harford County, a rural area.
Detective David McDougall, of the Harford County Sheriff's Department, had been following Anderson for a few weeks and watched the "surprisingly open drug sales at a strip mall".
The detective then placed a GPS tracker underneath Anderson's car. He was in for a surprise when the heroin dealer went straight to The Red Roof motel instead of going back to his home. Warrants were immediately changed and after a few days of waiting, he was able to arrest his dealer.
When McDougall asked Anderson why he was staying in the motel, the dealer told him that two men had kicked down the door of his home a few days earlier. One man wearing a hoodie had threatened to kill Anderson's girlfriend, took jewelry, $10,000 in cash, a Rolex watch, a gun, and 800 grams worth of heroin.
When the detective's team raided the dealer's apartment later, they did not find any drugs. They were only able to recover digital scales and 10 cell phones. There was also a boot print on the door and the lock had been destroyed.
McDougall immediately became suspicious when he found everything in the apartment just like how Anderson had described it. For the detective, the whole thing sounded and looked just like a police raid. He then looked at Anderson's car and was surprised to find a GPS tracker just eight inches from his own tracker he had placed.
The detective had already worked really hard to make sure that no other law enforcement agency was investigating Anderson and he had entered all the information on the case in their "deconfliction database".
McDougall then subpoenaed the manufacturing company of the GPS tracker and found out that the owner of the mysterious 2nd tracker was John Clewell, a detective working with the Baltimore Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force. It was found out later that the Task Force had been tracking the same dealer because the childhood friend of Gondo, who also happened to work for Shropshire, said that the rival gang wanted to rob and murder him.
Officers Gondo and Rayam then borrowed the tracker from Clewell. Rayam and the friend, Glen Kyle Wells, went to Anderson's home and robbed it while Gondo watched Anderson. McDougall, after finding out all this information, informed the FBI and the investigation into the Task Force started.
In 2015, the FBI uncovered so much dirt on the seven cops in the task force that it was unimaginable for many. They revealed that Jenkins would be the one to steal the heroin, ecstasy, crack, and cocaine and then re-sell it on the streets. He would deliver the drugs almost every night to Donald Stepp, a longtime friend and a bail bondsman, who would keep his shed unlocked in his backyard.
This was just one part of the whole operation. There were multiple robberies as well including $100,000 from a safe which was then covered up with a reenactment film.
Jenkins and his crew took half of the $200,000 and two kilos of cocaine that they had found in the basement of Oreese Stevenson. There was also $2,000 taken from a homeless man instead of arresting the man on drug sales. Another was $16,000 taken from a man called Shawn Whiting. After a high-speed car chase which ended in a crash, the Task Force found $8,000 in the glove box and only returned $2,800 of the total as evidence.
The crew revealed later how Jenkins would plant drugs on innocent people while posing as the US attorney to help in the robberies. He would also reportedly stop any man who was above the age of 18 and wearing a backpack. Jenkins was a big fan of the "door pops", speeding right at groups of black men on the street and also chasing after any person who ran. Many of the people who encountered Jenkins would end up being arrested and robbed.
The crew of the Task Force revealed that as soon as they found a gun during a raid, they would go home which led to hours of overtime while they all just hung out at bars. One of the victims told the BBC: "They owned the city. It was a front for a criminal enterprise."
Rayam, Gondo, Jenkins, and Ward all pleaded guilty to the crimes while Hersl and Taylor were convicted after the trial. Hendrix, Ward, Allers, and Rayam are facing 20 years behind bars while Gondo, Hersl, and Taylor are poised to get up to 60 years in prison. Jenkins is expected to get between 20 to 30 years in a federal prison.