BALTIMORE – Issa Haddad, 24, of Rockville pleaded guilty on April 9 to playing an integral role in a wide-reaching conspiracy to distribute marijuana and launder money earned in sales of the drug. Though Maryland, Washington, D.C. and several other jurisdictions have taken steps to legalize or decriminalize medicinal and recreational marijuana, its use, sale and possession remains illegal under federal law.
According to his plea agreement, Haddad provided addresses in Montgomery County and elsewhere to which co-conspirators would ship marijuana. He said he maintained responsibility for the receiving, sending and preparing for distribution of between 400 and 700 kilograms of marijuana in Maryland.
According to the plea agreement, Haddad also maintained responsibility for depositing cash profits from the drug sales into bank accounts controlled by his co-conspirators. The deposits amounted under $10,000 to avoid IRS reporting requirements. Haddad admitted to laundering between $2.5 million to $7 million for the conspiracy and agreed to forfeit at least $2.5 million.
To date, seven other people in Maryland, California and New York have pleaded guilty to participating in either drug smuggling or money laundering on behalf of the conspiracy.
Haddad faces a maximum prison sentence of 40 years for drug trafficking and a maximum sentence of 20 years for money laundering. District Judge J. Frederick Motz has scheduled sentencing for July 25.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge William Winter of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Baltimore Homeland Security Investigations and Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger announced the plea.
Rosenstein praised the inter-agency cooperation during the investigation of the case.
“This group was importing a large amount of drugs and earning large amounts of money,” Rosenstein said. “The result illustrates the impact we can have when we all work together to identify major drug suppliers.”