State Denies Appeal In Major Drug Dealing Case

SNOW HILL — A Baltimore man, sentenced in 2018 to a series of 15-year prison sentences for drug trafficking, had his appeal for an alleged error in sentencing denied this week by a state appeals court.

In November 2017, the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Narcotics Unit, along with the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team, the OCPD Special Enforcement Unit and the OCPD Quick Response Team, or SWAT, 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.

Operation Harbor Breeze was launched in part to curb thefts, burglaries and vehicle break-ins associated with street level drug distribution in the resort. Undercover narcotics detectives were able to make 66 purchases of illegal drugs flowing into the resort. The combined value of the drugs seized during the operation was over $87,000.

In one of the major arrests associated with Operation Harbor Breeze, a known Black Guerilla Family 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, now 39, of Baltimore, who was looking to deliver large amounts of heroin and cocaine to Ocean City and Worcester County.

In November 2017, an OCPD narcotics officer initiated a drug-trafficking investigation on Talib. On Nov. 9, the detective made a pre-arranged purchase of $1,200 worth of crack cocaine and $800 worth of heroin from Talib, according to court documents.

Later that month on Nov. 30, 2017, the OCPD detective arranged to purchase $15,000 worth of heroin from Talib. However, the sale did not occur as planned the next day because after an arrest team attempted to take Talib into custody, he struck two police vehicles with his vehicle and drove away.

“As the police gave chase, they observed the appellant throwing objects from the passenger window of his car,” according to the court opinion released this week. “One police officer observed the appellant throw a clear baggie containing a roughly softball-sized object out of his car, which burst into a powdery white cloud after striking a fence. Soon thereafter, the appellant crashed his car and was arrested. A search of his car revealed over 10 grams of heroin.”

Worcester Criminal Enforcement Team units pursued Talib’s vehicle as it crossed the Route 50 Bridge toward Ocean City. At one point 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 charged with one count of distribution of heroin and one count of distribution of cocaine for the planned transactions on November 9, 2017, and one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin for the second incident later that month.

In May 2018, Talib pleaded guilty to each of the counts. He was sentenced to 15 years for the distribution of heroin count, and 15 years to be served concurrently for the distribution of cocaine count. He was also sentenced to 15 years for the possession with intent to distribute to be served consecutively to the first two counts.

However, Talib filed an appeal to correct an illegal sentence last October, an appeal that was denied by the Worcester County Circuit Court. Talib than appealed to the state’s Court of Special Appeals, which this week denied his appeal. In the appeal, Talib asserted his sentence in the third count was illegal because it violated his Constitutional rights and that he was sentenced as a subsequent offender following the guilty pleas in the first two counts from the Nov. 9, 2017 incidents.

“On appeal, the appellant argues that his sentence is illegal because the court impermissibly sentenced him as a subsequent offender, the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction for possession with intent to distribute heroin, and he was entitled to a merger of his sentences,” the opinion reads. The appellant noted a timely appeal to this court contending that the circuit court erred in denying his motion. We disagree and shall affirm.”

This week, the Court of Special Appeals opined Talib’s assertions about the validity of his sentences for the three separate counts did not have merit and upheld the decision of the Worcester County Circuit Court to deny his appeal.

“The appellant had premised that argument on the asserted fact that, at the time he committed his offenses, the maximum penalty for each of his offenses was 10 years imprisonment, yet the court imposed 15-year sentences for each offense,” the opinion reads. “Our review of the relevant statutes demonstrates that, at all relevant times, the maximum penalty of imprisonment for each of the offenses the appellant pleaded guilty to was 20 years. Thus, even if we were to have addressed the claim, we would have found it lacking merit.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.