PONTIAC, Mich. (WJBK) - Federal authorities are fighting back against the opioid epidemic by taking down a huge drug ring in Metro Detroit.
A dozen people are facing federal charges for selling deadly heroin laced with fentanyl. Those drugs are linked directly to overdose deaths in the Detroit area and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said these 'dealers of death' are facing a long time in prison.
"People that think they can profit from this and go about their business are dead wrong," Bouchard said. "If you sell this death in Oakland county, or in the other counties this touched - Livingston and Wayne - we're coming for you."
Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch and several local law enforcement announced the arrests of 12 people who were part of the drug-trafficking organization known as 'TEAM." The group was allegedly formed when members of the "Hustle Boys" and the "Wall Street Gorillaz" joined together to distribute heroin starting in 2010.
The indictment claims that customers of the drug trafficking ring contacted members and arranged heroin sales by phone in a neutral location. Those locations were typically strip malls throughout Pontiac but they're also accused of seeling heroin from trap houses on Granada and Hopkins in Pontiac. Authorities claim they alerted their customers of heroin for sale by texting the word FIRE.
"It makes me angry because I've hugged parents that have lost their kids and I know these kind of people are profiting off the deaths of those people," Bouchard said.
The US attorneys office charged 12 people for selling heroin laced with fentanyl. That includes the alleged leader of TEAM - Timothy Williams, aka T2. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent and distribution resulting in bodily harm to four people.
He and two other members were charged with distribution causing death and were linked to a deadly overdose in 2013. Many of the 12 arrested face at least 20 years in prison.
During the press conference on Wednesday, Bouchard displayed a list of more than 120 names of people deputies have saved.
"That's a list of people we've saved. Not how many we've lost which is worse than that," he said.
Bouchard says the dealers are just making money but it's very real to them. He has a warning for them all:
"Tor them, this is just money. For us, this is real," Bouchard said. "All of us will find you, regardless of where you're hiding. Regardless of what rock you're under, we're going to find you and put you in prison."