DETROIT, MI – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan announced the establishment of the Southeast Michigan Regional Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force.
This is an unprecedented step to co-locate so many federal as well as state and local resources to address the unique challenges in the southeast Michigan region.
This multi-agency Strike Force is composed of personnel from the FBI, Homeland Security Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and approximately 26 state, local and Canadian law enforcement agencies.
The Department of Justice recognized that Southeast Michigan had both a significant opioid problem and a violent gang problem. Analysis of investigations in the Region found that domestic cartel and violent street gangs are responsible for distribution of Mexican-sourced heroin, fentanyl-laced heroin and pure fentanyl here. Additionally, DOJ noticed a significant increase in overdose deaths as well as identified over 140 neighborhood-based gangs operating in the Region. These gangs were and are facilitating the drug trade and using violence to control their territories and prevent cooperation with law enforcement.
In response to this problem, the Southeast Michigan Strike Force will coordinate investigations to identify, disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute transnational criminal organizations, violent drug trafficking organizations, firearms trafficking organizations, and their subsidiary organizations, which operate throughout the southeast Michigan region, the United States and the world. The Strike Force will focus cooperative investigations on dissolving these organizations, their financial infrastructures, and the violence and associated deaths they bring to our communities.
“While all of us have been working individually to fight gangs and drugs, our individual efforts were not as effective as we wanted,” stated United States Attorney Matthew Schneider. “We know that gangs and cartels work together. So we’re doing the same thing. We’re going to step up our efforts. We are now communicating immediately, sharing intelligence, and planning our attacks against these criminals together.”
“As a part of the Southeast Michigan OCDETF Strike Force, we are committed to a long-term partnership that allows law enforcement to reduce the illegal drug supply by aggressively targeting criminal organizations operating throughout southeast Michigan,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon. “Drug trafficking and violence go hand-in-hand, which is why federal, state and local law enforcement are making these dangerous drug trafficking organizations a top priority. By working with our partners, we are able to bring these violent individuals to justice and improve the safety of our communities. We are focused on the current opioid epidemic, but this initiative is ready to adapt to any future drug threat facing southeast Michigan“
“The Strike Force model, which has proven effective in other areas of the country, will certainly be highly successful in the fight against criminal organizations that are flooding our communities with dangerous narcotics. The influx of these drugs into our communities feeds other illicit activities including human trafficking, carjackings, homicides and other gang-related violent crime.” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater, FBI Detroit. “Combining the resources and capabilities of the agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting these crimes will improve our ability to target, disrupt and ultimately dismantle those organizations distributing drugs and contributing to violence in communities throughout Southeast Michigan.”
“As criminal organizations become increasingly sophisticated in their activities, the law enforcement community must continue to partner to leverage our unique capabilities and combined resources to combat this ever evolving threat,” said Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Detroit.
“Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel, IRS – Criminal Investigation, stated, “The IRS-CI will utilize our expertise as financial investigators and leverage our domestic and international partnerships to combat national and transnational money laundering organizations.” Muriel continued, “Similarly we will continue to work with our law enforcement and private sector partners to repeatedly assess ongoing and emerging money laundering threats.”
Since its inception in October 2017, the members of the Southeast Michigan Regional Strike Force have been responsible for the seizure or over 35 kilograms of fentanyl, 25 kilograms of heroin, 50 kilograms of cocaine, as well as the seizure of 12 weapons and approximately three million dollars in drug proceeds. The seized fentanyl alone would have exponentially fueled the opioid epidemic in the region and was enough to have killed approximately 15 million people based on the lethal dosage threshold. In addition, over 100 people have been arrested. Some of the people arrested by Strike Force members have been sentenced to extensive terms of incarceration related to the delivery of controlled substances which caused the death of those who developed an addiction to opioids.
The local agencies include Michigan State Police, Michigan National Guard, Canton Township Police Department, Detroit Police Department, Northfield Township Police Department, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, Walled Lake Police Department, Shelby Township Police Department, Southgate Police Department, Livonia Police Department, Livingston County Sheriff’s Department, Milan Police Department, Pittsfield Charter Township Police Department, Plymouth Township Police Department, Brownstown Police Department, Woodhaven Police Department, Allen Park Police Department and the Wayne County Airport Authority. The Canadian law enforcement agencies include the London Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Windsor Police Service and the Canada Border Services Agency. Also included are the Michigan State Attorney General’s Office and Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.