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Crime & Justiceby Mark Reutter7:41 pmJun 4, 20150

Federal, state agencies will help police fight surge in violence

Commissioner Batts blames prescription drugs stolen during the riots for “bloody May” shootings and homicides

Above: The DEA tonight released photos of suspected looters, offering up to $2,000 for information.

Baltimore Police are calling on federal, state and local law enforcement agencies (with the exception of the National Guard deployed after the April 27 riot) to stem the tide of homicides and shootings in the city.

“This is an all hands on deck – all hands, every single resource, every single body, every single personnel on the streets of Baltimore,” Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said yesterday.

He ticked off the names of agencies he said will be assisting the city – FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Marshals Service, Office of the U.S. Attorney General, Maryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Police, Baltimore Sheriff’s Office and Baltimore School Police.

Batts said he is submitting a request for more U.S. prosecutors and more federal agents “to move to the city of Baltimore to assist us in this battle against the violence.”

Federal Trials

He lightly touched on what appears to be a major shift in jurisdictional policy, saying he will ask Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein to start filing one-felony federal gun charges against people charged with violence in Baltimore.

By so doing, Batts said, more defendants would be tried in federal rather than state court.

His statement raised eyebrows in legal circles today because it is the role of the state’s attorney, not the police, to weigh in on court matters.

Maryland courts already have tough sentences – a minimum five years without parole – against defendants with a prior felony who are brought in on gun charges.

Stolen Narcotics Blamed for Violence

For the first time, Batts equated the record number of homicides last month to the large amount of prescription drugs and opiates stolen from pharmacies during the April 27 riot.

“There’s enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” Batts said. “That amount of drugs has thrown off the balance on the streets of Baltimore. . . Criminals are selling those stolen drugs. There are turf wars happening that are leading to violence and shootings in our city.”

His statement echoes what Gary Tuggle, DEA special agent for Baltimore, has been telling the media for the last two weeks.

Commissioner Batts announces steps he is taking to deal with the sruge of violence in the city. (BPD Media Section)

Commissioner Batts announces steps to deal with the outburst of violence. (BPD Media Section)

Batts announced that 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics were looted during the riot. Earlier, the city said that 17 pharmacies were robbed or damaged.

Tuggle estimates that 175,000 dosage units of prescription drugs, which include oxycodone, phentinol and oxycontin, were stolen. That number is liable to sharply rise because 40% of city pharmacies have not yet reported their potential drug losses to the data base maintained by DEA.

Batts said Baltimore detectives have made 10 arrests of looting suspects identified by surveillance video and other means.

Tonight the DEA released photographs of some of the approximately 70 people suspected of property damage and looting during the riot.

A reward of up to $2,000 is being offered by Metro Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest of the suspects.

Rite Aid has opened a temporary store at the site of its looted pharmacy at 700 West Saratoga Street. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Rite Aid opened a temporary store at the site of its looted pharmacy at 700 West Saratoga. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

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