15 suspected Md. gang members indicted after drug ring discovered at Comfort Inn

A grand jury has indicted 15 suspected gang members who the Anne Arundel County police said were running a drug and sex trafficking ring out of a Brooklyn Park hotel for months.

David Brown, 44, of Baltimore, and Michael Copeland, 41, of Glen Burnie, were the ring leaders who were living and working out of an entire floor of the Comfort Inn & Suites south of Baltimore, police said.

The investigation into the drug- and sex-trafficking operation, called Operation Too Close for Comfort, started in May 2019.

Detectives watched members of the unidentified gang and said they saw Brown and Copeland buying and selling drugs, said Chief William Lowry during a press conference Wednesday.

Police learned that some fatal overdoses were a result of drugs sold by the gang, Lowry said.

“There’s a ripple effect, not only in Anne Arundel County but through the Baltimore and D.C. area,” Lowry said of the drug distribution.

The police tried to make undercover drug buys, but they ran into a problem, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said: “David Brown insisted that if he did not know a customer personally, they had to use drugs in his presence.”

In addition to running drug sales, Frosh said Brown forced women to engage in sex trafficking in exchange for drugs and hotel rooms.

Hotel employees also reported to Brown, Frosh said, warning him of any suspicious activity, guests who appeared to be law enforcement or members of a rival gang, or any police presence in the hotel.

“He had control of multiple rooms at one time, including an entire floor,” Frosh said. “He used these rooms for drug sales, to hide drugs, to hide money and for the sex trafficking victims to use for what the gang called ‘their dates,'” Frosh said.

After arresting Brown, Copeland and the 13 other defendants, Lowry said, detectives seized two assault rifles; seven handguns; eight vehicles used to traffic women and illegal drugs; 502 grams of crack cocaine; 119 grams of powder cocaine; more than 3,000 grams of marijuana; more than 200 grams of heroin/fentanyl; 38 grams of MDMA; 1,316 grams of methamphetamine and 13 strips of suboxone, as well as $27,000 in cash.

The defendants were indicted by a grand jury on multiple charges, including participation in a gang; possession with intent to distribute heroin/fentanyl, cocaine and MDMA; distribution of controlled dangerous substances; and possession of controlled dangerous substances and conspiracy in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

Besides Brown and Copeland, these are the other defendants:

  • Antoine Crockett, 39, Windsor Mill
  • Troy Wayne Dunnigan, 24, Glen Burnie
  • Charles Marion Edwards Jr., 54, Baltimore City
  • Antoine Folkes 51, Pasadena
  • Vernon Ralph Harris, 50, Reisterstown
  • Patrick John Hines, 45, Arbutus
  • Justin Michael Jess, 28, Glen Burnie
  • Lawrence Oliver Jones Jr., 35, Baltimore City
  • Lawrence Ontario Matthews, 44, Baltimore City
  • Michael Rebstock, 47, Baltimore City
  • Derrick Rodney Ricks, 28, Baltimore City
  • William Henry Shipley Jr., 28, Baltimore
  • Andrew Lee Tillman, 36, Rosedale.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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