Prosecutors say Johnnie Butler ran a violent and well-organized heroin operation on Baltimore’s east side. Its members were able to sneak drugs into prison, get tipped off by courthouse staff when they were being sought on warrants, circumvent the application process to acquire guns, and get released from jail by posting a fraction of the bail imposed by judges, reports the Baltimore Sun. Last week, some of those who authorities said helped run the operation made their first appearances in court: a man enrolled at the city fire academy, a woman who worked for the state’s attorney’s office and attends the University of Baltimore, a Johns Hopkins Hospital nurse’s assistant and a student on scholarship at St. Mary’s College.
“Many people deal drugs as a last option and don’t have the means to do anything else,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Studdard. “In this organization, these individuals have intelligence and have the means to get out of a drug gang, but instead they choose to deal drugs. … What’s more dangerous?” Prosecutors said the case offered a look at the lower-level members of the organization, many of whom did not have the violent pedigree and previous brushes with the law as their federally indicted counterparts.