The "normal and understood rate for a contract killing in Baltimore is $5,000," according to charging papers filed in Maryland U.S. District Court on March 28, alleging 29-year-old Derrick Lamont Smith "committed a number of contract murders in Baltimore, Maryland over a number of years."The case against Smith and his co-defendant, 24-year-old Robert Harrison, Jr., is based on monitored interactions between Smith, a cooperating witness (CW), and a female Baltimore Police Department undercover officer of the course of two months, ending with the March 27 arrests of Smith and Harrison. The CW, the court records state, "had personally contracted with Smith in the past to commit murders." Smith, whose nickname, "Chubb," is tattoed on his arm, allegedly was waiting for the CW to be "released from prison" so the two could "get back to the business of taking other murder contracts."The contract for which Smith and Harrison are currently charged was not carried out. It was set up by the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force in Baltimore, and targeted a fictional drug dealer dubbed "Black." The undercover officer was posing as a "drug mule" for Black, court documents state, and Smith was told she was a friend of Black's girlfriend.In his dealings with the CW, Smith "emphasized his desire" to murder his target "in the city rather than in Baltimore County"—a reflection, perhaps, on the relative odds of getting caught. The city's homicide squad closes about half or less of their murder investigations with arrests, while Baltimore County closes about nine out of 10 cases. If the CW's information is true, and can be corroborated well enough to bring charges, perhaps some unsolved Baltimore City homicides eventually will be attributed to Smith and the youngsters he allegedly has gotten to carry out his murder-for-hire schemes in the past.When Smith allegedly tried to tap into his network of what he called his "little goons" to kill Black for the CW, though, he ran into some difficulties.Though Smith initially told the CW that "I'll get on top of that shit for real," since "that shit ain't really a big deal," as weeks passed he allegedly related how "I ain't have the same little team," who are all in prison. (Smith, whose 2009 armed-robbery conviction yielded a seven-year prison sentence, somehow was not there with them). Since "I ain't dealin' with the same niggers that I was dealin' with," the charging documents quote Smith as saying, "this murder is a little more difficult than the murders he has done in the past." This time, the new players he's using worry that "they ain't gonna get paid," Smith alleged said."The little dudes be wantin' some paper," Smith allegedly told the CW, adding that "they be thinkin' I'ma beat'em" by not paying them after they kill Black.On March 25, two days before Smith and Harrison were arrested, the two allegedly were in the vicinity of Druid Hill Ave. and Whitelock St., near the Sugar Hill Tavern, handing a phone back and forth as they talked with the CW. Harrison allegedly stated that he wanted "half up front," or $2,500, before the deed would be done. The plan was set for Smith to meet with the undercover, who would provide Smith with the money and guns for Harrison to kill Black.On March 27, the day of the planned murder, the undercover called Smith and told him to meet her at the Motel 6 off Caton Ave. in Halethorpe, next to Loafers Bar & Grille, and that she had "them things," meaning the guns, and "the half," meaning the $2,500. So Smith allegedly left his girlfriend's house on Carlisle St. in Forest Park and jumped a hack across Liberty Heights Ave. to Harrison's house on Chatham Rd. in Ashburton, went inside, came back out, then hacked to Druid Hill Ave. and North Ave., about three miles away. There, he allegedly climbed into a new hack to the Motel 6 to do the deal, and as soon as he took the two .9 mm handguns and the $2,500 in a shoebox, he was arrested. Shortly thereafter, so was Harrison, back home in Ashburton.In the public imagination, murder-for-hire plots tend to be sophisticated arrangements in which seasoned professionals are paid to carry out their deadly deeds with cold calculation. Think, for instance, of the $800,000 stymied hit job last year, in which veterans of the U.S., German, and Polish armed forces agreed to accept $800,000 from Colombian drug traffickers to kill a DEA agent. Smith and his "little goons" are far from this caliber, and in Baltimore—where last year another hitman, 47-year-old Antonio McKiver, who allegedly had a long history of whacking targets for money and agreed to take $15,000 and a kilogram of heroin in a murder-for-hire sting operation by the feds, was sent to federal prison for nearly 20 years—the murder-for-hire game is decidedly lackadaisical. Indeed, Smith and his "little goons" seem utterly blasé and hamfisted about their business, which seems to be conducted with little care or discretion."There are other hit men like Antonio McKiver who commit drug-related murders in Baltimore," Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said in a statement when McKiver was sentenced," adding that, "our challenge is to catch them before the next murder so we don't need to chase them afterwards." Since Smith and Harrison are currently being detained pending trial, they'll should no need to chase them for a while.