An Elkton man accused of being the kingpin of an illegal ring that has been distributing heroin in Maryland, New York and the Dominican Republic since 2003 is now facing federal charges. Police arrested 26-year-old Steven Blackwell in New York on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after a federal grand jury in Baltimore handed up indictments against him and two co-conspirators, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

One of his alleged accomplices is 24-year-old Elkton resident Joy Edison, according to federal prosecutors. The remaining defendant has been identified as 34-year-old Cockeysville resident Tahirah Carter.

The trio is charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Police said they are accused of distributing more than a kilogram of heroin through numerous transactions.

If convicted, each could face life in prison.

Police said the Aug. 11 indictments marked the end of a lengthy investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the Baltimore City Police Department.

"This investigation has been one of our highest priorities," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a press release issued Thursday. Police said shootings and other acts of violence in Baltimore have been linked to Blackwell and his alleged drug ring.

"Our partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the tenacious work of many Baltimore police officers and FBI agents over the last two years has led to the indictment of Steven Blackwell on drug conspiracy charges," Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld said. "This indictment represents a milestone achievement in the fight against violent crime in Baltimore."

On Thursday, Blackwell was in federal custody in New York, where he is awaiting extradition, prosecutors said.

Edison and Carter, who also were arrested Tuesday, had their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Thursday, prosecutors said.

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