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Press Release

Leaders Of Large-Scale Drug Ring Sentenced To Life In Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

Two individuals from metro-Detroit were sentenced today to life in prison after having been convicted of violating various federal drug laws in a massive drug ring that trafficked hundreds of kilograms of heroin and cocaine, and thousands of pounds of marijuana in metro-Detroit, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. 

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge Durell Hope, Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Division.

Carlos Ellis Powell, age 39, of Washington Township, MI, and Eric Jerome Powell, age 36, of Franklin Farms, MI were sentenced today by United States District Judge Stephen J. Murphy.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s investigation of the drug ring uncovered a massive operation that began in 2006 and continued until late 2010.  Carlos Powell, Eric Powell, and eleven others operated a drug organization which dealt in multi-kilogram quantities of marijuana, heroin and cocaine in the Detroit metropolitan area.  The members of the organization would arrange for large amounts of money derived from the sale of drugs to be transported to Phoenix, Arizona, Mexico and elsewhere for the purpose of purchasing more controlled substances.  As part of the conspiracy, the members of the organization would use semi-trucks and vehicles equipped with traps and hidden compartments to transport marijuana, cocaine and heroin, as well as cash generated from the sale of these drugs.  The drug ring, which was one of the largest in metro-Detroit history, also laundered in excess of $21 million in U.S. currency.

Since 2006, law enforcement officers from across the country have seized over 12 kilograms of cocaine, 30 kilograms of heroin and 1000 pounds of marijuana destined for distribution by this organization. More than $21 million in cash was seized by law enforcement officers between June 2010 and November 2010 alone.  Law enforcement also seized jewelry appraised at over $800,000, 8 pieces of real property in Michigan and Georgia valued in excess of $750,000, 10 vehicles, including a 2004 Rolls Royce, 2006 and 2008 Bentley, a 2006 Ferrari, 4 Mercedes, a Ranger Rover and two boats.

The members of this organization, using the illegal proceeds of their narcotic sales, purchased and leased numerous luxury vehicles, acquired and sold real property and purchased jewelry while concealing the true source and nature of the funds involved in the transaction through false names and nominee purchasers.

The members of the organization would deposit large amounts of cash derived from the sale of drugs into various bank accounts; purchase cashier's checks and money orders; and wire transfer these funds. These funds would then be used to purchase assets and pay personal expenses with the goal of concealing the true source, nature and ownership of the funds which had been derived from the organization's drug sales.

This case was investigated by special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Homeland Security Investigations with the assistance of officers from Northville Township Police Department, Plymouth Township Police Department, Warren Police Department, Redford Police Department, Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, Detroit Police Department and the Michigan State Police.
Updated March 19, 2015