Judge Set to Lead Investigations into the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force Corruption Scandal
Alexander Williams Jr. a retired U.S District Judge has been tasked with leading an investigation panel that will look into the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) corruption scandal. The investigation comes at a time when citizens are looking for answers on just how police tasked with fighting crime went rogue and became criminals themselves.
The GTTF is comprised of eight members, all of whom ranked highly within the Baltimore Police Department. They had been tasked with the responsibility of ridding of illegal guns from the streets of the Maryland city which were responsible for an increased rate of crime. But contrary to this, an investigation by the Baltimore Sun newspaper revealed the unit was busy cutting corrupt deals with criminals, stealing from innocent citizens and drug dealers and defrauding the Baltimore Police Department.
Before they were exposed, the Gun Trace Task Force had managed to convince the public that they were indeed a ray of hope for a police department that was reeling in darkness. Their leader, Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, was portrayed as a hero and that through his leadership, the team was cleaning guns from the streets at an astonishingly high rate. This, to the public, was welcome as the rate of homicide in the city was increasing at the time.
On March 1, 2017, Wayne, together with his team, were arrested by the FBI and arraigned in court. They were then charged with multiple counts of crimes that stretched back to at least three years before their arrest. Some of the crimes they were charged with included racketeering, robbing civilians, planting drugs such as cocaine and heroin on innocent civilians, false overtime filing and extortion among others.
Since their arrest and having pled guilty, six of the GTTF members have been tried and convicted while the trials of two others await scheduling. Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, their leader, was sentenced on June 7 to 25 years in prison while Thomas Allers, a fellow sergeant in the team had, on May 11, been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Detectives Marcus Taylor and Daniel Hersl were both sentenced to 18 years in prison on June 7 and June 22 respectively. On June 8, Evodio Hendrix and Maurice Ward – both ranking as detectives – were sentenced to 7 years each. For Momodu Gondo and Jemel Rayam, also ranking as detectives, their trials are yet to be scheduled but each faces up to 40 years and 20 years imprisonment respectively.
A ninth accomplice, Officer Eric Snell from Philadelphia, was also arrested in November 2017 and charged with conspiring with the GTTF to commit crime. According to authorities, his role was to distribute some of the guns, cocaine and heroin that the other members brought in from their missions of crime. He is scheduled to be tried on October.
Even as the Gun Trace Task Force scandal continues to be investigated, the Baltimore Police Department woes seems to be far from over. Dean Suitor, a detective with the department was found dead a day before he was to appear in court as a witness in the GTTF case. The authorities are still divided on the coincidence of his death and whether he committed suicide or was murdered.
The department also lacks a commissioner as Darryl DeSousa, the last sitting commissioner, resigned in May after being charged with failure to file tax returns for three years. Kevin Davis, the commissioner who preceded DeSousa, had been fired on January by Catherine Pugh, the Mayor of Baltimore, for being lethargic in fighting crime.