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Nathan Barksdale likely to plead guilty in heroin-and-firearm conspiracy case

January 8, 2014
Barksdale Jackson 2009

Photo by Frank Klein

Nathan Barksdale, the legendary Baltimore  gangster turned gang interventionist at Safe Streets, is due to appear in Maryland U.S. District Court on Jan. 15 for re-arraignment in a heroin-and-firearm conspiracy case in which he’d previously entered a plea of not guilty. Notice of the hearing was docketed this morning.

Re-arraignments usually entail pleading guilty to some element of the charges, if not all of them. Barksdale’s co-defendant, Suraj Tairu, is set for re-arraignment on Jan. 22.

Charging documents in the case allege that Barksdale is a high-level, long-time member of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gang who procured heroin from Tairu, who has a long-ago conviction for participating in a heroin-importing scheme from Africa. Heroin recovered in the case against Barksdale and Tairu was in pellet form, commonly associated with heroin coming from Africa.

City Paper has spoken with Barksdale twice in recent years. In 2009, when he was 48, he was interviewed at length about The Baltimore Chronicles: Legends of the Unwired, a docu-drama project that sought to tell true-life stories fictionalized in HBO’s The Wire, along with Kenneth Antonio “Bird” Jackson, a strip-club manager and stevedore with his own legendary past on Baltimore’s mean streets, who was spearheading the project. (Jackson, left, and Barksdale are pictured, in a photograph by Frank Klein.) A year later, when Barksdale was described as “an active BGF member” in court papers filed in a wide-ranging racketeering case against the gang, he denied it, saying, “I ain’t no motherfuckin’ member.”