First kilo-quantity drug dealer pleads guilty in Mondawmin Mall sting case

Last Aug. 11, nine men were arrested in Baltimore after a major supplier of drugs was busted, turned informant, and placed calls to his customers to arrange for transactions they thought would involve kilograms of cocaine and heroin, but instead ended with a string of busts that day, seven of them in the parking lot of Mondawmin Mall. One of the two arrested elsewhere—Vincent Ronald "Cuzo" Cooper, whose arrest went down at the Haddon Hill Apartments in Northwest, where he allegedly worked as a maintenance man—today became the first of the defendants to plead guilty.

Cooper admitted purchasing for distribution "a total of at least 14 kilograms of cocaine in Maryland on four separate occasions" between November 2013 and last August, his plea agreement explains. That's in addition to the 7 kilograms Cooper was attempting to buy from the informant—whose name, according to court documents, is Michael Barrett, a 41-year-old who was released from federal prison in May 2013 after a 1998 bank-robbery conviction—when he was arrested on the evening of the Mondawmin arrests with $223,140 in cash he meant to use as payment, the agreement continues.

Many of the eight remaining defendants who've maintained their innocence have also filed motions challenging the charges against them. In addition, prosecutors have filed a forfeiture case over $4,530 in cash recovered during the arrest one of the defendants, Ronald Sampson. Sampson's paramour, Latoya Eaton, filed a claim to the cash, and the government has challenged her version of events in part by recounting how, when they seized the cash, Eaton's 11-year-old daughter blurted out, "That's not my mom's money!" and Eaton responded, "Shut the fuck up!"

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