ELKTON — The Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office has transferred an Elkton-based cocaine importation case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, after federal authorities expressed an interest in prosecuting the three defendants.

“The case has been transferred to federal court, and they (the three defendants) are now in federal custody,” Stephen Barlow, a CCSAO investigator and spokesman, told the Cecil Whig on Tuesday afternoon, declining to comment further because his office is no longer prosecuting the three defendants.

Along those lines, as a matter of housekeeping, CCSAO prosecutors dismissed cases here against two of the defendants — Troy Lee Neal, 42, of the 100 block of East Village Road in Elkton and Mark Anthony Williams, 52, of the 100 block of Elk Chase Drive in Elkton — on Monday, according to Cecil County Circuit Court records.

Local prosecutors also dropped their case against the remaining defendant — Kevin Purnell Johnson Jr., 36, of the 600 block of Elk Mills Road near Elkton — on Oct. 29, court records show.

The three defendants each had faced numerous drug charges, including importing cocaine into the state, possession of a large amount of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and their trials were scheduled for January and February 2021, before federal authorities took over the cases.

A surveillance operation focusing on a Lincoln Navigator as it traveled from Elkton to Bronx, N.Y. and then back led to local investigators confiscating more than one pound of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $20,000 and arresting the three suspects in June, according to charging documents in the now-closed cases at the state level.

The seven-hour-long surveillance operation was conducted from the night of June 13 into the early-morning hours of June 14 by Cecil County Drug Task Force (CCDTF) agents and Maryland State Police Special Investigation Section (SIS) members, police reported at the time.

It marked the culmination of an “extensive investigation in which Neal, Johnson and Williams were observed involved in suspected drug transactions,” police said.

Based on information gained from that investigation, police added, Cecil County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Keith A. Baynes granted the drug agents a search warrant for Neal’s residence on East Village Drive on June 3.

The surveillance operation started at approximately 7:15 p.m. on June 13, with investigators monitoring a black Lincoln Navigator driven by Neal and occupied by Johnson and Williams as it departed from Neal’s East Village Road residence, police reported.

“Surveillance indicated Neal’s Lincoln traveled to The Bronx in New York, a known source area for cocaine,” court records alleged.

Neal’s Lincoln arrived at that location in The Bronx at about 10 p.m. on June 13 and then at 11:53 p.m., less than one hour later, it left and traveled south toward Maryland, police reported.

At 2:05 a.m. on June 14, the Lincoln arrived back at Neal’s residence and, also based on surveillance, Neal and Johnson got out of that vehicle along with two women, police said.

At the same time, police added, a white Nissan sedan pulled up in front of Neal’s residence, and Williams got out of that vehicle – before he, Neal and Johnson entered Neal’s residence.

Then at 2:12 a.m. June 14, some seven minutes later, CCDTF agents and SIS members raided Neal’s residence, court records showed.

During the court-approved search of that residence, investigators found and confiscated 500 grams of “compressed suspected cocaine, several bags of suspected marijuana, an operational digital scale and several cellular telephones,” court records alleged.

There are 453 grams in a pound, meaning the total weight of the confiscated suspect cocaine is slightly more than one pound and one ounce.

“The approximate wholesale value of the cocaine seized was $20,000,” according to court records, which further alleged that, based on the lead investigator’s training, knowledge and experience, “Neal, Johnson and Williams possessed the suspected cocaine with the intention to distribute.”

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