HARPER WOODS (WWJ) – Members of a multi-jurisdictional task force have raided several homes in metro Detroit as part of a nearly five-year investigation into a drug trafficking ring that stretches all the way up to Traverse City.
WWJ’s Zahra Huber was the only reporter with Michigan State Police as they executed “Operation Sweetie” early Wednesday morning. At a home in Harper Woods, on Washtenaw Street near I-94 and Moross, agents found one of the key players they were looking for: A 34-year-old woman believed to have trafficked about 20,000 grams of heroin and cocaine.READ MORE: Detroit To Host Special Olympics Unified Cup In 2022
“At this particular address, we were able to take the main suspect into custody that’s responsible for a lot of the drug trafficking, or a lot of the organizational conspiracy type aspect of this investigation,” said Lt. Mike Shaw. “We also took two other people into custody that were in the home at the time. We’ll go ahead and interview them, see if they’re part of this actual conspiracy or not or if we need to release them.”
Agents also uncovered a bevy of evidence in Harper Woods.
“We did find marijuana, heroin and cocaine inside of the house,” said Shaw. “We found a large amount of financial transaction devices, Green Dot cards — which is an indicator a lot of times now, the drug trafficking business isn’t a cash business any more, the cash is loaded onto these Green Dot cards.”
Shaw said teams across the metro area targeted three other homes, one of which is believed to be a drop house — where the suspect stash drugs, weapons and any other evidence.
“We also have our fugitive team that’s looking for four other individuals on arrest warrants,” he said. “And at the same time in Traverse County, they’re also looking to arrest 11 other people up in that area as well.”
Missaukee County Sheriff Jim Bosscher, who is also the chairperson of the Traverse Narcotics Team, was in the Detroit area as the raids were carried out.READ MORE: Advocates Push For Vaccine Accessibility For Disabled Residents
“They’ve been planning this for quite some time. There’s a number of people being arrested simultaneously up north, the mid-level dealers, and then these are the major dealers that are coming from the Detroit-area,” he said. “This has basically been a historical case, about five years in the making, and what we consider very large amounts of heroin and crack cocaine being trafficked up to northern Michigan.”
Shaw said drugs are being trafficked up north for one reason — money. Police believe more than $7 million worth of drugs exchanged hands over the length of their investigation.
“In Michigan, there’s just a huge heroin problem,” he said. “Down here, heroin in Detroit runs approximately $100 a gram, where up in Traverse City and northern Michigan it runs about $250 a gram. So there’s a huge, almost 150 percent profit that’s being able to come from this area.”
Bosscher said he hopes the raids send a message to the bad guys who are “poisoning our communities.”
“Typically up north, we don’t see this level of drug trafficking and now they’re bringing the drugs up north,” he said. “So, we’re sending the message that we’re going to come down here and then bring you back up north for prosecution in our court system there. There is no place we won’t go. We’re also looking out-of-state for some other players in this investigation.”
As for the “main suspect” who was taken into custody Wednesday, prosecutors in Grand Traverse County have authorized multiple felony counts against the woman, including conspiracy to deliver cocaine or heroin — 1,000 grams or more, and conducting a criminal enterprise, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle.MORE NEWS: Spectrum Health To Require Employee COVID-19 Vaccinations
Stay with WWJ Newsradio and CBSDetroit.com as police discuss the results of the raids.