More charges filed for ‘drug cartel’ suspects

Mayor, law enforcement officials praise work of Warren police, DEA

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published September 9, 2016

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WARREN — Mayor Jim Fouts’ stated “citywide crackdown” on drugs has broadened to include more charges in a federal case tied to an investigation led by the Warren Police Department and supported by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to an official statement released by the DEA’s Detroit Division, a total of 13 suspects were named in U.S. District Court in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Sept. 1. Nine of the men now face charges of distributing fentanyl and heroin resulting in overdose death and serious bodily injury. All face charges of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances including heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine and fentanyl.

Both charges are felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Some of the defendants also face substantive counts of drug distribution and weapons charges.

The indictments were the result of a joint operation by the Warren Police Department’s Special Investigations Division and the DEA, launched earlier this year after a spate of nearly a dozen heroin overdoses and two deaths over a two-week period. The original indictments were announced in June, and five suspects in the alleged “drug cartel” were reportedly taken into custody during raids at locations in Warren and Detroit.

The original indictment alleged that the men conspired to distribute “100 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin” between April 11 and June 7 of this year.

“This initiative was started by Warren police from my request to Commissioner Jere Green to institute a massive drug bust against the drug cartel in Detroit following the OD deaths of seven Warren residents earlier this year,” Fouts said in a statement released on Sept. 2. “This is a landmark case in which our Warren special investigations team worked from the ground up in February 2016 and concluding in September 2016.

“This will also put a dent in the increased crime in the area caused by desperate heroin addicts,” Fouts said. “This includes the robbing and mugging of elderly Warren residents, auto thefts and home invasions.”

Green said that the cooperative investigation between the Warren Police Department and the DEA was extensive and that it netted significant results.

“We feel that we’ve made a major inroad into heroin distribution in this area,” Green said. “We’re very happy with the results.”

In prepared remarks, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said fentanyl and heroin use are reaching epidemic levels nationally “as people addicted to prescription pills become desperate to feed their addictions.”

“Law enforcement agencies are banding together to prosecute traffickers who are exploiting these addictions and risking lives for profit,” McQuade said.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon added, “It is a priority of (the) DEA to identify and investigate those who distribute drugs that result in overdose or death. The charges announced today should make it clear to all drug dealers that they will face consequences for the harm that they inflict on the user and on society.

“The Warren Police Department deserves significant credit for devoting the time and effort needed to successfully investigate and bring these individuals to prosecution,” Plancon said.