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12 face federal charges in Oakland County heroin distribution ring

Oct 19, 2017

Twelve men face federal charges for their alleged roles in an Oakland County-based drug ring that’s linked to at least one overdose death.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit unsealed an indictment against the men Wednesday.

The indictment alleges the men were part of a “drug trafficking organization known as the TEAM.” The “TEAM” was reportedly a merger of two former street gangs who “joined together to distribute heroin” starting in 2010.

They allegedly sold drugs out of homes in Pontiac, and operated a text-message based drug delivery system throughout southeast Michigan.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says the group mixed heroin with fentanyl, a powerful and deadly synthetic opioid.

The indictment links “TEAM” members to four overdoses, and two of the defendants have been linked to at least one death from the heroin-fentanyl combination. Bouchard says it was a complex case that took years to build.

“It’s unusual to put all these points together, and build a complex case” linking distributors directly to overdoses and deaths, Bouchard said. “Because you have to have all these things not only suspected, but aligned and provable.”

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 1,275 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015, with more than 40 deaths in Oakland County. However, those numbers are almost certainly under-counting opioid deaths, because not all death certificates list specific drugs involved in an overdose.