DETROIT (WWJ) – Several businesses and homes along Woodward were raided by an FBI task force as part of an effort to bust a large-scale heroin operation that investigators say is controlled by a violent, Detroit-based gang.
The situation unfolded Tuesday morning along Woodward Avenue between 6 Mile and 8 Mile roads.
Paul Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office, said teams executed nine federal search warrants and three state search warrants “to disrupt the large-scale distribution of heroin controlled by a violent, Detroit-based criminal organization in adjacent areas within the City of Detroit and Oakland County.”
Abbate said the raids were ordered due to recent violence and increased sale of heroin in the area, adding that the drug “continues to be a significant problem in our communities, leading to numerous deaths and overdoses.”
Detroit Police Chief James Craig echoed that statement.
“A majority of the bias that has occurred in this particular area, we know is connected to narcotic activity,” he said. “So, it was fitting that we would attack the source of the problem.”
Craig said so far, the operation seems to be a success.
“We’ve made 12 arrests for a variety of narcotic violations and nine guns were confiscated — three AK-47s, one submachine gun and five machine guns,” he said.
Officers also handed out seven citations along with seizing an undisclosed amount of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, Craig said.
WWJ’s Vickie Thomas was at the scene of one raid at a yellow brick house off Goldengate Street, just south 7 Mile Road. She said several officers dressed in fatigues had surrounded the home with weapons drawn.
Dr. Bob Pizzimenti, who runs the Innate Healing Center and Vegetarian Café nearby, said he’s not necessarily surprised by the raids.
“There’s a bunch of young kids, I knew them when they were young and they were just, you know, trying to get by. None of them were doing drugs themselves — yes, they were selling some themselves. And there was a shooting, from what I understand it was from one drug house after the other drug house,” Pizzimenti told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas.
Pizzimenti, who also lives on Goldengate Street, said he thought the teenagers were selling crack cocaine — not heroin.
“They’re just kids, you know, no parents, the same old story,” he said. “And most of the people coming in were from Birmingham, white folks coming in and coming down the alleyway and getting their stuff and going home, you know.”
At another scene, the Sunoco gas station on the corner of 8 Mile and John R, officers confiscated so-called “setups” — a brown paper bag with a glass pipe and other paraphernalia used to smoke crack cocaine or shoot up heroin.
The operation was conducted by officers with the FBI Oakland County Gang and Violent Crime Task Force, the Detroit Violent Gang Task Force, and the Detroit Violent Crime Task Force; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Enforcement and Removal Operations; the Michigan State Police; the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team, and the Southeast Oakland SWAT Team; and the Detroit, Ferndale, and Royal Oak Police Departments.