Warren police target fentanyl traffickers

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published January 4, 2021

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WARREN — The Warren Police Department closed out 2020 by announcing the results of a major fentanyl trafficking investigation that yielded charges against four men, with three arrests so far.

According to a release from Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer, the department’s Special Investigations Division launched operation S.N.O.W. (Stopping Narcotic Overdoses in Warren) in early November after the death of a 47-year-old resident. He said the monthlong probe that followed left a “deadly drug cell shattered” and led to the authorization of charges including drug trafficking, conspiracy, and the manufacturing and delivery of fentanyl against four “key members.”

The arrests reportedly came after an extensive investigation and as a result of early morning raids at two locations in Detroit last month.

Three suspects, Jermaine Tate, 38; Nathaniel Clark, 32; and Terry Jamal Gaskins, 34, were arraigned in the 37th District Court on Dec. 18. A fourth suspect was identified by police,  but was not in custody on Jan. 4.

“Investigators seized evidence that has identified in excess of 24 overdoses and three deaths from Warren,” Dwyer said. “As the investigation continues, we are anticipating more charges and arrests in the near future.

“We believe this group is a cell in a major organization that is providing fentanyl to those addicted not only in Warren, but also throughout Macomb County, as well as Wayne, St. Clair and Lapeer counties. Obviously, this particular organization is responsible for additional deaths in these areas,” Dwyer said.

According to statistics provided by the Warren Police Department, death by overdose is a growing problem locally and across the country. About 72,000 overdose deaths were reported nationwide in 2019, and that number was up about 13% for 2020 as of late last year.

Dwyer said the use of illicit drugs, particularly fentanyl, is to blame for that increase.

“In Warren alone for the year 2020 we have had 296 overdoses, up from 249 in 2019, which is an 18.8 % increase,” Dwyer said. “Sadly, the amount of overdose deaths has increased from 39 reported in 2019 to 55 overdose deaths in 2020.”

Dwyer added, “It is unfortunate that everyone who hears or reads this report has probably been affected by the loss or near loss of a family member or friend, or knows someone who has been.”

He said targeting those responsible for putting drugs, including heroin or cocaine laced with fentanyl, on the street for prosecution will be a priority of the department with the support of Macomb County prosecutors and Warren’s city administration.   

“I have and will continue to support the Warren Police Department in their efforts to fight this nationwide epidemic and to keep Warren a safe and clean city,” Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said.

Attorneys representing the three men either could not be reached or declined to comment for this report on Jan. 4.

The men were scheduled to be back in the 37th District Court before Judge Michael Chupa at 9 a.m. on Feb. 2.

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