A dozen members of an Oakland County drug ring have been charged in federal court with selling heroin mixed with fentanyl to customers, including one who overdosed and died.
The indictment, unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Detroit, is the latest attempt to crack down on the synthetic pain medication fueling the nation’s deadliest addiction crisis.
The drug ring, dubbed “TEAM,” sold heroin in Oakland, Livingston, Macomb and Wayne counties since 2010. Prosecutors say the gang was a joint venture formed by members of the street gangs “Hustle Boys” and the “Wall Street Gorillaz.”
This gang made home deliveries to customers across Metro Detroit and at neutral locations, including strip malls and abandoned “trap” houses in Pontiac.
The drug ring also had sophisticated marketing, sending group text messages to customers alerting them when heroin was available. The texts carried the code word “Fire,” prosecutors allege.
“Overdose deaths from heroin and fentanyl have become a national epidemic, including here in Michigan, as people addicted to prescription pills become desperate to feed their addictions,” acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch said in a statement. “Law enforcement agencies are banding together to prosecute traffickers who are exploiting these addictions and risking lives for profit.”
At a news conference Wednesday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard discussed the ring and the human toll of the opiate addiction crisis.
“It’s an equal opportunity destroyer,” said Bouchard, who held up a string of six pages containing the names of 120 people his department saved from opiates overdose.
Bouchard said the group of suspects known as the “TEAM” are connected to a fatal overdose going back to 2013.
The sheriff said all but one of the suspects is in custody.
Bouchard had a stern warning for would-be dealers who sell drugs in Oakland County and elsewhere in Metro Detroit.
“If you sell this death in Oakland County or in the other counties that this touched, we’re coming for you,” Bouchard said.
The sheriff said he also would like to see a law passed in Michigan requiring pharmacists to put the name of the person who was prescribed opioids into a state database to keep track of prescriptions of potentially-addictive and deadly drugs.
Currently the practice is voluntary, the sheriff said.
The indictment unsealed Wednesday charged the following people with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and heroin mixed with fentanyl.
■Timothy Williams, 26, of Pontiac
■Kristopher Anderson, 40, of Pontiac
■Deaire Rayford, 26, of Auburn Hills
■Christopher Light, 25, of Commerce Township
■Kourvoisiea Pittman, 27, of Keego Harbor
■Robert Bell Jr., 28, of Pontiac
■Deandre Mullen, 26, of Pontiac
■Steven Erkins, 24, of Pontiac
■Anthony Lee, 27, of Pontiac
■Quanzay Milton, 32, of Pontiac
■Antonio Bell, 26, of Waterford Township
■James Bellmore, 50, of Waterford Township
Williams, aka “T2,” the head of the drug ring, prosecutors said, was also charged with distribution of heroin resulting in serious bodily injury to four victims.
Anderson and Marlon McCallum,35, of White Lake Township, were charged with distribution of heroin and fentanyl resulting in the death of one victim.