OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Narcotics Unit, in conjunction with the allied law enforcement agencies, last week wrapped up a major drug distribution investigation throughout the resort area with 21 arrests or indictments and thousands of dollars in heroin and cocaine taken off the streets.
The OCPD Narcotics Unit, along with the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team, the OCPD Special Enforcement Unit and the OCPD Quick Response Team, or SWAT, last week began making arrests and serving search and seizure warrants following a three-month investigation into the distribution of heroin, cocaine and other drugs in the resort area. Under the guise of Operation Harbor Breeze, the allied agencies utilized undercover detectives to target street level drug distribution in Ocean City, particularly in the downtown area.
Operation Harbor Breeze was launched in part to curb thefts, burglaries and vehicle break-ins associated with street level drug distribution in the resort. From September through early December, undercover narcotics detectives were able to make 66 purchases of illegal drugs flowing into the resort.
Among the drugs purchased by undercover detectives were heroin, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, Xanax, Suboxone, Oxycodone, Dilaudid and marijuana. The total estimated street value of the drugs purchased by undercover detectives is estimated at around $87,745. As a result of the investigation, 21 suspects have been arrested or will be indicted or charged in the near future. Additional arrests or indictments are expected to be made in the future and the investigation continues.
Shariff “The Postman” Talib
In one of the major arrests associated with Operation Harbor Breeze, a known Black Guerilla Family (BGF) gang member with a long criminal history including a manslaughter conviction was nabbed in the sting after making a sale to an undercover detective at a West Ocean City convenience store. Through covert investigative techniques, an OCPD narcotics detective was able to establish an undercover connection with Shariff “The Postman” Talib, 35, of Baltimore, who was looking to deliver large amounts of heroin and cocaine to Ocean City and Worcester County.
Talib is a validated BGF gang member who has been charged in the past with first-degree murder, manslaughter, multiple handgun and firearm violations, possession of body armor, malicious burning and several possession and distribution of controlled dangerous substance (CDS) offenses. When OCPD detectives first made contact with Talib, he already had eight years of “backup time” with the Department of Corrections for a manslaughter conviction and a pending CDS possession with intent to distribute charge.
Over the course of the investigation, undercover OCPD detectives purchased a large amount of heroin and crack cocaine from Talib in three hand-to-hand drug deals. Roughly 56 grams of heroin and 12 grams of crack cocaine were purchased from Talib during the three transactions.
On Dec. 1, an undercover detective arranged to purchase several ounces of heroin from Talib. The transaction was set to take place at the Royal Farms store in West Ocean City at 11:30 p.m. As officers moved in to arrest Talib, he immediately rammed a Maryland State Police cruiser with two MSP troopers inside. Talib then crashed into one of the steel and concrete barriers protecting the gas pumps at the store before fleeing in his vehicle on Route 50 toward Ocean City.
Worcester Criminal Enforcement Team units pursued Talib’s vehicle as it crossed the Route 50 Bridge toward Ocean City. As he drove across the bridge, Talib threw a plastic bag with powder inside out of the passenger window and it burst against a chain link fence, according to police reports.
As Talib entered Ocean City, he traveled the wrong way off the bridge onto northbound Philadelphia Avenue where he crashed into the median and struck the wooden median barriers. The crash disabled the vehicle and Talib was apprehended without further incident. Talib was injured in the crash and was treated at Peninsula Regional Medical Center and released.
The plastic bag thrown from the vehicle’s window was most likely the bag of heroin Talib was bringing to sell to undercover detectives. Nonetheless, at the scene of the crash he was found in possession of one bag of heroin weighing roughly 11 grams, one bag of crack cocaine at roughly eight grams, 34 bags of crack cocaine totaling five grams, 10 more bags of heroin totaling one gram, seven bags of cocaine totaling on gram and two cell phones.
The total street value of the CDS located at the crash scene was $5,390. The total street value of the bag thrown out of the window during the chase would have been roughly $50,400 once it was cut and sold on the streets of Ocean City and Worcester County. The total street value of heroin that undercover detectives were able to purchase from Talib prior to the December 1 arrest would have been over $25,000, while the total street value of crack cocaine undercover detectives purchased from Talib would have been $1,300.
In total, the overall street value of all of the CDS that Talib delivered with intent to distribute in Ocean City and Worcester County was over $82,000. OCPD detectives pointed out it would have been enough heroin to put over 2,700 capsules on the streets in Ocean City and Worcester County.
Talib has been charged with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of assault on law enforcement, distribution of heroin, distribution of cocaine, distribution of heroin in a school zone (Ocean City Elementary), possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine and possession of heroin and cocaine. He is also facing possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine charges in Wicomico and Queen Anne’s counties.
Leon Alfonso Johnson
In another significant bust associated with Operation Harbor Breeze, OCPD narcotics detectives and their allied partners were able to arrest a Salisbury man on multiple counts of cocaine distribution. Through the investigation, OCPD detectives learned that Leon Alfonso Johnson, 39, of Salisbury, was supplying cocaine to individuals in Ocean City, specifically within the downtown bar crowd. Undercover detectives developed a rapport with Johnson and made numerous undercover purchases of cocaine from him during the course of the investigation.
Johnson has been charged with three counts of distribution of crack cocaine, distribution of powder cocaine, distribution of oxycodone and possession of crack cocaine, powder cocaine and oxycodone. Johnson has prior charges for first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, robbery, multiple firearms violations, multiple felony and misdemeanor CDS charges, burglary, obstructing and hindering and trespassing.
Michael Lee Sellers
During the course of the investigation, OCPD undercover detectives established a relationship with Michael Lee Sellers, 39, of Salisbury. On different occasions, undercover detectives were able to purchase heroin, crack cocaine and powder cocaine from Sellers.
Sellers is currently in jail in Somerset County and his case will be presented to the Worcester County grand jury for his alleged activity in the resort area. The expectation is Sellers will be formally charged with distribution of heroin, crack cocaine and powder cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin, crack cocaine and powder cocaine and possession of heroin, crack cocaine and powder cocaine.
Sellers has multiple priors including auto theft, possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, malicious destruction of property, theft, fraud, credit card misuse, including multiple cases in Ocean City and Wicomico County, burglary and making false statements to police.
Violitus Scott, Cherice Johnson
During the course of the three-month investigation, OCPD detectives and their allied partners made contact with a Salisbury couple suspected of selling heroin and crack cocaine in Ocean City. Undercover detectives established a relationship with Viotlitus Scott, 37, of Salisbury, and learned he had been selling crack cocaine and heroin in the resort. Undercover detectives made several covert purchases of crack cocaine from Scott during the three-month investigation.
On some occasions, Scott would send his alleged accomplice, identified as Cherice Johnson, 37, of Salisbury, to do the deals on his behalf.
Undercover detectives also made purchases from Johnson directly during the investigation. On Dec. 13, OCPD detectives made arrangements to purchase crack cocaine from Scott.
When he arrived at the appointed time and place, Scott was immediately arrested by OCPD Narcotics, the OCPD Special Enforcement Unit and the Worcester Criminal Enforcement Team. Johnson was driving the vehicle in which Scott arrived for the transaction and she too was arrested. Both Scott and Johnson have been charged with distribution and possession of crack cocaine and conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.
The investigation also led to the arrest of Samuel Bermudez, 24, of Ocean City, who was allegedly selling prescription pills to street level dealers for distribution in the resort. OCPD detectives met Bermudez while working undercover and were able to make several purchases of Alprazolam from him. During the investigation, it was learned Bermudez was allegedly supplying other people in
Ocean City with prescription pills, which they were then selling on the streets of the resort.
OCPD detectives were able to identify at least two other individual sellers who were being supplied by Bermudez. Around 6:20 a.m. on Dec. 13, OCPD detectives, the Quick Response Team and the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team served a search and seizure warrant on Bermudez’s residence on 13th Street and took him into custody. He has been charged with three counts of distribution of Alprazolam, possession of Alprazolam and possession of Hydromorphone.
Several More Arrests
Operation Harbor Breeze resulted in several other arrests for various drug distribution and possession charges. Among those arrested was Joseph Lawrence Weber, Jr. 53, of Ocean City, who was charged with distribution of heroin. Weber has prior charges for possession with intent to distribute, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, trespassing and malicious destruction of property.
Also arrested was Troy David Teutsch, 35, of Ocean City. Teutsch has been charged with distribution of Alprazolam and marijuana. Brendan Burgey, 24, of Ocean City, has been charged with distribution of Alprazolam and marijuana. Joseph Othaniel Deshields, 54, of Berlin, has been charged with distribution of crack cocaine.
Michael David Austin, 32, of Ocean City, has been charged with distribution of Alprazolam and suboxone. Caitlin Cottrell, 27, of Ocean City, has been charged with distribution of cocaine. Avery Listmann, 18, of Ocean City, has been charged with distribution of marijuana. Joshua Dubose, 21, of Cockeysville, Md., has been charged with distribution of marijuana.
Robert Donaldson, 60, of Ocean City, has been charged with distribution of crack cocaine. Donaldson has prior charges for arson, assault, carrying a concealed weapon, distribution of marijuana, theft, burglary and malicious destruction of property.