FBI busts Pontiac drug ring amid customer revolt

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Just 2mg of fentanyl, shown above, is enough to prove fatal, according to the Justice Department.

FBI agents raided a Pontiac home Friday as part of a broader crackdown on a multi-state drug ring that helped fuel the nation's opioid crisis and angered customers by selling substandard smack.

The raids coincided with federal prosecutors unsealing complaints against eight people charged with federal crimes. The drug ring bought and sold heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and crystal meth in Oakland County, Flint and Arizona, Tennessee and West Virginia.

The investigation dates to at least April 2018 and revealed the drugs were imported from Mexico to Phoenix.

On April 10, 2018, investigators spotted one accused drug ring member, Marlon Jackson, taking out the trash at a home on the 1500 block of Root Street in Flint. Agents searched the trash and found multiple kilo-sized wrappers that later tested positive for fentanyl, according to a federal complaint.

In February, investigators seized approximately three kilograms of cocaine that was mailed from Phoenix to Pontiac and four kilograms of a fentanyl and cocaine mixture one month later that was sent from Arizona to Clinton Township.

Neil Thomas, 60, of Lansing mailed the fentanyl and cocaine in March, prosecutors said Friday.

Security footage shows Neil Thomas mailing a package containing three kilograms of fentanyl and one kilogram of cocaine, prosecutors said.

The cocaine seized in February, meanwhile, was supposed to be delivered to Jackson's home in the 1100 block of Maurer Avenue in Pontiac, prosecutors alleged. Investigators searched the home Friday.

The drug ring's products drew customer complaints, according to the government.

Investigators listened to a recorded phone conversation between accused drug ring members Neil and Henry Thomas in early February, according to the complaint.

The duo talked about the poor quality of the drugs.

"What did you do with that stuff?" Neil Thomas asked. "You just set it to the side?"

"Yes," Henry Thomas said. "Nobody wants it."

Some drug customers sought refunds.

Federal agents were listening to a conversation between Neil Thomas and another accused drug ring member, Charles Harris, in February.

Harris complained about losing customers due to the poor quality of the drugs and said some customers returned the narcotics, according to a criminal complaint.

Harris said some customers considered the heroin and fentanyl "too weak," according to the court filing.

Other customers threatened to tell the police about the low-quality drugs, according to court records.

Eight people were charged with various crimes Friday. They are:

• Neil Thomas of Lansing. He is in custody and faces a detention hearing Monday in Detroit.

• Anthony Knight, 36, of Pontiac. He is in custody and awaiting a detention hearing Monday in Detroit.

• Henry Thomas, 39, of Pontiac. He is not in custody.

• Marlon Jackson, 60, of Pontiac. He was arrested Friday.

• David Thomas of Indianapolis. He was arrested Friday and is awaiting a detention hearing.

• Freda Beecher, 44, of Memphis, Tennessee. She was arrested Friday and is awaiting a detention hearing.

• Charles Harris of Memphis, Tennessee. He was arrested Friday and is awaiting a detention hearing.

• James Bailey. He was arrested Friday in Nashville, Tennessee, and is awaiting a detention hearing.


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