ESCANABA -A major drug bust on Monday - involving five search warrants executed in Escanaba and Gladstone - was the result of several local, state and federal agencies working together on a cocaine trafficking investigation.
"The cooperation of all the agencies made it all come together with all the numbers and the intelligence shared," said Jeff Racine, commander of the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET). He added the teamwork of so many agencies shows that law enforcement will not tolerate any drug activities in the Upper Peninsula.
A dozen agencies assisted UPSET in conducting five searches at two Escanaba homes, one Gladstone residence, and a Wells home Monday night. A search warrant was also conducted on a motorcycle clubhouse on Stephenson Avenue in Escanaba.
The searches resulted in the arrests of three Delta County males, lodged in jail on state and federal charges relating to drugs and firearms, Racine said.
One subject has been arraigned in Delta County District Court. George Arthur Creller, 48, of Wells, was officially charged with two counts of controlled substance -delivery/manufacturing non-narcotic schedules 1 and 2, said a court official. Creller is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in district court on June 24.
During the police raids, officials confiscated several firearms, a large quantity of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and items used for trafficking cocaine. Weapons included handguns and rifles, some which were stolen. Cash was also taken into police custody, Racine said this morning.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have been working with UPSET in the ongoing investigation during the past several months. The investigation included an undercover purchase of several kilos of cocaine, he explained.
Additional agencies which assisted in Monday's search warrants included the Delta County Sheriff Department, Escanaba Public Safety, and Gladstone Public Safety. Michigan State Police from the Gladstone and Stephenson posts also helped.
Other agencies offering assistance were: Michigan State Police Emergency Services Team; Michigan State Police 8th District Hometown Security Team; Michigan State Police Aviation Unit; the U.S. Secret Service; the Straights Area Narcotics Enforcement team; and the U.S. Federal Fish and Wildlife Service.
In addition to the above personnel -some who are on the UPSET team - police used K-9 dogs in the drug searches. A state police helicopter from Lansing also assisted.
No one was injured during the raids, Racine confirmed this morning, explaining that's why so much personnel is involved in the search warrant process.
"That's why we use the amount of manpower that we do. We don't want nobody to get hurt, including the suspects," he said.
The state police SWAT team assisted in the searches Monday for officer safety by making warrant entries on three of the locations that were considered high-risk, Racine said.
He added the multi-jurisdictional investigation is continuing.
"There possibly may be several more arrests pending on this case in the Delta County area," he said.
Racine said UPSET's recruitment of officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies enhances the organization. By working together, the agencies can pool their resources to cover more ground and strengthen their efforts. He attributes this cooperation to running gangs and drug dealers out of Upper Peninsula and preventing others from setting up shop here.
When Racine was asked if Monday's local raids were related to an organized seven-state effort by federal agents executing search warrants and arresting members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, he replied, "That's an ongoing investigation. We can't release any information on that."
More than two dozen Outlaws gang members from across the country were charged Tuesday with racketeering for allegedly participating in a criminal group involved in attempted murder, kidnapping, extortion, illegal gambling, and drug dealing, according to an Associated Press article. One gang member was shot and killed during a raid in Maine early Tuesday morning.