News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2006

DEA MET Team Deployment Brings Relief To Southwest Michigan

Kalamazoo, Michigan - July 7, 2006 - Robert L. Corso, the Special Agent in Charge of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") for the Detroit Field Division and Margaret M. Chiara, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, the Barry, Calhoun and Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Offices, along with the Michigan State Police Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET), Cass County Drug Enforcement Team, Van Buren County Sheriff's Office, St. Joseph Area Narcotics (SCAN), Three Rivers Police Department (PD), Albion Department of Public Safety, and the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team (KVET) announced today the results of a coordinated enforcement effort that targeted methamphetamine lab operators and distributors.

During the past seven months, the DEA has deployed their Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) to the Kalamazoo area to assist state and local law enforcement agencies with the surge in methamphetamine manufacturers and organizations operating in and around the southwestern region of Michigan. Methamphetamine manufacturers and distributors have had an overwhelming negative impact on communities in this area due to the increasing number of methamphetamine addicts, and increased theft and violent crime. During the course of these investigations, several repeat offenders were discovered who crossed county and state boundaries to elude local law enforcement. The Detroit MET, in an effort to ensure this does not continue, worked closely with various County Prosecutor's Offices to identify repeat methamphetamine offenders in order to coordinate an aggressive prosecutorial strategy with the U.S. Attorneys Office in the Western District of Michigan. This strategy ensures these individuals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Another important aspect of this deployment was the disruption and dismantling of a major crack cocaine organization operating in the Albion, Michigan area. This organization was operating for several years, and the ring leader of the investigation has been a target of DEA and other law enforcement for some time. As of today, six individuals have been indicted and this investigation is ongoing.

The concept of the DEA MET groups is to send federal narcotics resources and personnel to areas throughout the country that may not have the resources to combat violent drug trafficking organizations. The DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams have operated for over a decade and they have been hailed by local law enforcement officials as a vital tool in combating the drug trade as it has spread to America’s heartland. The MET mission is to identify and dismantle violent drug trafficking groups that have targeted smaller urban and rural areas throughout the United States.

"The MET deployments are designed to have an immediate and positive impact on the quality of life for local residents who have been plagued by these drug organizations' blatant disregard to public safety," said DEA Detroit Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso.

According to United States Attorney Chiara, "Law enforcement has a tradition of working collaboratively to more effectively protect those who live and work in Western Michigan. The MET deployment is an excellent illustration of a productive federal, state, and local partnership."

During the Kalamazoo MET deployment, agents working with state and local authorities arrested of 31 individuals to include 16 federal defendants, and seized five suspected methamphetamine laboratories, as well as quantities of suspected marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Within the last week, an additional two suspected methamphetamine labs were seized, four individuals were arrested and over 50 firearms were seized from one of the suspected methamphetamine lab sites.