A half-dozen Baltimore teenagers were indicted Monday on hundreds of combined charges related to their alleged roles in a major gun heist in the Park Heights neighborhood nearly two years ago.
Prosecutors say the group stole the firearms, which ranged from pistols to AR-15s — and even one sniper rifle — from a single storage unit at Simply Self Storage at 5301 Park Heights Avenue on Aug. 5-6, 2015. According to the indictment, they went in turns to the storage unit over those couple of days to steal the weapons. Once they had the guns stored in their residences and vacant spaces around their Northwest Baltimore neighborhood, they allegedly went on a spree of robberies and carjackings and sold the weapons across the city.
All six of them – Aamir Benton, Taquan Ervin, Tione Smith, Daesean Whitaker, Nathan Wilson and Damondre Woods – are from Baltimore and were all under 18 when the thefts occured. Each faces a mix of charges, including conspiracy to commit burglary for illegal trafficking of firearms, theft of between $10,000 and $100,000 and possession of a regulated firearm by a person under age 21.
Benton faces the most charges with 186. Smith faces 176 and Ervin and Whitaker face 92, per court records.
The indictment indicates the group moved fast after allegedly stealing the firearms. On Aug. 7, prosecutors say Wilson and two others carjacked a 1999 Mercedes using a silver revolver. (Police caught up with Wilson three days later.) On Aug. 8, an associate of Ervin’s named Aaron Long allegedly used one of the revolvers to rob a man of his iPhone and car keys and, hours later, steal his Mazda CX-5. (Police recovered the car on Aug. 24 behind Wilson’s and Benton’s house.) And on Sept. 25, prosecutors say police recovered a Glock and a Mossberg shotgun from a man who said he bought the guns from Smith and Woods.
The teens allegedly sold the guns around Queensberry Avenue, which backs up to Pimlico, and otherwise stashed them in vacant houses and at their own homes.
Wilson was the first of the group to be arrested. The others were corralled in the following months through mid-2016.
Damondre Woods’ attorney, Stephen Beatty, and Tione Smith’s attorney, Alex Leikus, haven’t returned messages requesting comment.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Baltimore Field Office, the Baltimore Police Department and the Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s Organized Crime Unit carried out the investigation over the course of a year.
“These burglars were illegally selling and distributing stolen firearms and using them to commit acts of violence,” said Attorney General Frosh in a statement. “I commend the federal agents who worked tirelessly on this year-long investigation to ensure our prosecutors can bring these criminals to justice, and make our communities safer.”
All six defendants are due to appear in court on June 1, per court records.
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