By Rebecca Blatt
A suspected drug kingpin who has long eluded police in Baltimore, is now facing a federal indictment on charges that carry the possibility of a life sentence.
After 2 years of surveillance, 26-year-old Steven Blackwell Junior has been charged with conspiring to distribute heroin in Baltimore, New York and the Dominican Republic.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein says the indictment came through an initiative called the Baltimore Exile Program.
That's not an acronym. Rosenstein says it targets people believed to be serious criminals, agents want to remove from the community. Federal investigators work side by side with local law enforcement to develop cases that can mean long sentences in federal prison.
"It's not just a matter of going to a local jail where your family may be able to visit you," says Rosenstein. "It's a matter of leaving your community for decades."
Rosenstein says that threat can motivate defendants to cooperate and may have a deterrent effect.
But the Blackwell case is far from over. He is being extradited from New York to Maryland to stand trial.