Maryland sees headway using global, federal data to fight violent crime

There’s a new tactic in fighting gang activity in Maryland, coming straight from the governor’s office. A few months ago, it launched a network to help county police dismantle gangs like MS-13, using data from international and federal investigations.

“We’re very frustrated with the level of violent crime, especially in Baltimore,” said Glenn Fueston, who runs the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network.

The network has 13 branches working with police departments across the state and aims to make as much information available to local departments as possible so they can dismantle entire crime organizations, not just their players.

“We’re not talking about these quick pops, we’re talking about multi-month, or possibly year, investigations where we’re looking to dismantle an entire criminal network,” Fueston told WTOP.

With supplemental funding from the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network, Anne Arundel County police arrested 21 people in a drug trafficking organization, and in Montgomery County, officers pulled down a prostitution ring, saving seven victims from human trafficking.

After an eight-month investigation that started with a scope of one person, Feuston said it netted 21 people, 1.74 kilograms of fentanyl, 8.68 kilograms of xylazine, ⅓-kilogram of heroin and about a ½-kilogram of cocaine, 4 firearms and $296,000 in U.S. currency were seized.

The Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network is part of Gov. Larry Hogan’s crime plan.

“This crime-fighting network is focused on comprehensive data sharing and collaboration to break down jurisdiction barriers. County lines do not deter or even slow down criminals, and now, they are no longer roadblocks,” Hogan said in an August 2018 press conference announcing $4 million in funding for the initiative.

One of the networks’ branches in Hyattsville led to the takedown of twin brothers leading the MS-13 gang in the city. The same branch also identified an MS-13 distribution facility, where it seized $10,000 in counterfeit currency, Fueston said.

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