Informant Led ATF Sting on Drug Robbery Suspects
Three of the men arrested in the sting operation on Thursday were accused of being drug dealers from Waverly.
The work of an informant and undercover agent led to the arrest of three alleged drug dealers from Waverly during an operation that left one suspect shot and injured.
The U.S. Attorney has filed charges against six people for conspiracy to obtain and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and conspiracy to posses a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
Tracey Theraldine Betters, 20, Blake Aristotle Betters, 23, Brandon Adonnis Harris, 20, John McLaurin, 22, Aaron Walker, 23, and Isiah Benjamin, 18, were all charged on Friday.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court, Baltimore police alerted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that Blake Betters, Tracey Betters and Brandon Harris were drug traffickers in Waverly and that they have been suspects in several area commercial and armed robberies.
On May 9, an informant—identified in the affidavit as CS-1—who has been working with federal and local law enforcement for more than four years, met with Tracey Betters and two others not involved in the charges on Greenmount Avenue about robbing a drug "stash house," invented by law enforcement. That meeting was recorded via a hidden audio device and was under the surveillance of law enforcement.
The following information was detailed in the charging documents filed in U.S. District Court by Maryland's federal prosecutor:
During the meeting, Tracey Betters agreed to commit the robbery and asked the informant if he needed guns or if the residents at the stash house would be armed. The informant told him that residents at the stash house would be armed, but urged him not to kill them because it would attract police attention.
Tracey Betters then told the informant that if the stash house residents were as large as he was, he would need to shoot them. The informant told Tracey Betters that it would be up to him whether or not to shoot the residents, and Tracey Betters responded he would do what was necessary to finish the robbery.
On May 29, Tracey Betters contacted the informant to discuss the robbery further. The next day the informant met with Tracey Betters, who said his crew was ready to complete the robbery. A few hours later, the informant introduced an undercover ATF agent to Tracey Betters, Blake Betters and Harris.
During the meeting, which was recorded, the undercover agent told the men he worked for drug traffickers, and that his employers would shortly have 10 to 12 kilograms at the target stash house. The undercover agent made an agreement to split the drugs evenly with Tracey Betters and his crew in exchange for pulling off the robbery.
Tracey Betters asked if the residents at the stash house were protecting the drugs.
"They aren’t going to give that [expletive] away," the undercover agent said.
On June 13, the informant met with Tracey Betters, Blake Betters, Harris and McLaurin to further discuss the robbery. The informant then told the men that there would be five to six kilograms at the stash house and that there would be armed guards. That did not dampen the men’s enthusiasm for the robbery, according to the affidavit.
The informant then called the undercover agent on his cell phone, and the agent told the men that there would be 10 to 12 kilograms of cocaine in the house. The suspects told the undercover agent they intended to rob the house at gunpoint and to send them a text message when he left. The informant told the men he would call them the next morning.
The next morning the informant called Tracey Betters who expressed the amount of cocaine they were going to steal could result in "fed charges." The informant told Tracey Betters if they didn’t want to do the robbery they didn’t have to.
Tracey Betters called back, and said that his crew would do the robbery, but that he would need to pick them up in East Baltimore because he didn’t want to drive with guns in the car.
The informant agreed and met Tracey Betters in East Baltimore. While the informant was speaking to Tracey Betters, he noticed a red truck circling his vehicle. The truck drove off and the informant was assured he wasn’t being followed and took Tracey Betters to another location.
When they got to the second location the informant noticed the red truck and another burgundy vehicle parked nearby. Tracey Betters got out of the informant's car, greeted the people in the burgundy car and returned with a pistol and a shotgun. McLaurin then got out of the red truck and got into the informant’s car.
The cars then drove to North Baltimore, and during the drive Tracey Betters broached the subject of killing the undercover agent after the robbery and taking his half. The informant agreed to the plan because he knew the conversation was being recorded.
They then went to the 3300 block of Clipper Mill Road where the undercover agent asked them they were sure they wanted to commit the robbery. The robbers said they were on board, and the informant and the undercover officer then walked a short distance away to call the "stash house."
As they walked away, ATF and Baltimore police arrest teams closed in. At that time the burgundy car with Blake Betters, Harris, Benjamin and Walker tried to run over two ATF agents, one of whom fired and hit the driver in the arm (the identity of the driver is not disclosed in the affidavit). The car then rammed two police vehicles but all four men were taken into custody.
McLaurin and Tracey Betters also tried to flee but were apprehended.