By Phil Davis / The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — A man pleaded guilty Monday to his role in a drug-dealing operation that involved paying a U.S. Postal Service driver in drugs and cash in exchange for delivering over 100 kilograms of marijuana while on his mail route in Baltimore.
Michael Gray faces up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
According to court documents, Gray worked with Postal Service driver William McRae, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute over 100 kilograms — about 220 pounds — of marijuana in March. He faces up to 40 years in federal prison.
An attorney for McRae declined to comment. Calls for comment from Gray’s attorney were not returned Monday.
According to McRae’s plea agreement, Gray and another unnamed co-conspirator paid McRae in cash and marijuana to deliver kilograms of the drug on his mail route in Baltimore between November 2017 and November 2018.
Gray and the co-conspirator would contact McRae the days they planned to mail marijuana to Maryland from California, and tell him where to deliver the packages at different locations on Hollins, Calhoun and West Lombard streets, the plea agreement shows.
“The packages routinely contained between 1 and 7 kilograms each and would often arrive in batches of up (to) 6 or 7 packages at a time,” McRae’s plea agreement reads.
Investigators found “over 200 suspicious parcels were mailed from California to a particular ZIP Code — 21223 — in Baltimore” between early 2017 and November 2018, according to court records.
Prosecutors wrote that the packages would be delivered on days that lined up with McRae’s route and that he would mark the packages containing the drugs as “delivered,” even when federal investigators observed him not making the deliveries.
Investigators spent nearly a year building a case against McRae and his co-conspirators. Prosecutors wrote in the affidavit that officers seized three suspicious packages from McRae’s route on Nov. 22, 2017.
“Each parcel contained approximately 1 kilogram of a green, leafy, plantlike substance that field tested positive as marijuana,” the affidavit reads.
Investigators continued to follow McRae’s route for a year, the complaint reads, before officers saw Gray pull up behind McRae’s Postal Service vehicle Nov. 20, 2018.
Prosecutors wrote they detained Gray and seized 2 kilograms, or about 4 1/2 pounds, of marijuana from his vehicle.
The case highlights how federal prosecutors continue to target marijuana dealers even as a growing number of states are moving toward allowing marijuana for recreational use and retail sales. In Maryland, marijuana is only legal for medical use with a prescription.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced earlier in January that her office would stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases, regardless of the quantity or person’s criminal history.
However, her policy has no effect on federal cases.
McRae is set to be sentenced July 15. Gray will be sentenced Sept. 16.