GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Twenty-seven people have been named in a federal criminal complaint following a Wednesday marijuana bust involving more than a dozen law enforcement agencies.
State and local authorities have been involved in a joint investigation called "Operation High Mileage" into a marijuana growth and sale operation across "several" West Michigan counties for some time. They were tipped off after a bust in Ohio in which a suspect informed the feds he got his marijuana in West Michigan, federal court documents show.
After utilizing surveillance and phone taps, they acted.
Local, county, state and federal agencies on Wednesday served 28 search warrants at 28 separate locations, and conducted three more consent searches at three more locations. Many of the searches were conducted in Muskegon County.
Authorities seized 500 pounds of marijuana, according to Kent County Undersheriff Jon Hess, and assets determined to be drug proceeds in the raids.
Twenty-five people -- members of the self-proclaimed "Medical Marijuana Team" -- were arrested. They were all taken to the Kent County jail.
A total of 27 people were named in the criminal complaint as members of the marijuana operation.
The operation used a doctor to rubber-stamp medical marijuana certifications and tried to hide behind those cards to justify selling hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of pot, a 60-page federal criminal complaint alleges.
The group operated two marijuana-related businesses. It even allegedly operated a storefront in the city of Muskegon, complete with its own Facebook page.
But the group didn't sell just to patients. Federal investigators say they provided the drugs sold on streets across West Michigan.
"When medical marijuana became legal, we did our research around the country and talked to other states who have been dealing with this for a long time, and they warned us about situation like this and having to deal with dealers," Undersheriff Jon Hess said. "So we were aware of it and I think we got ready for it."
One of the operation's grow sites was allegedly at Lori Lynne Larabel's northeast Grand Rapids home. She is the mother of one of the operation's alleged masterminds, Shawn Andrew Taylor.
According to the Kent County Correctional Facility's website, Larabel was released from jail. On Thursday, only her boyfriend, who identified himself only as Doug, was at the home listed in the criminal complaint.
Doug said he doesn't know what's going on.
"We were sitting down at the bar and feds come in, picked her up and took her to a jail. That's all I know," he said.
Doug claimed he knows nothing about anything illegal. But the complaint says Grand Rapids police went to Larabel's house in 2011 to investigate an armed robbery and theft of 18 marijuana plants. Even though Larabel didn't have proper documentation at the time, she wasn't arrested in 2011.
"This house, when the feds picked her up yesterday morning, they brought her over here. They went through this house. There's nothing there. That's all I got to say," Doug said Thursday.
The criminal complaint also alleges Braden Kasper manufactured and sold pounds of marijuana at a small, unassuming home in Walker. 24 Hour News 8 went to the home listed in the complaint Thursday and knocked on several doors, but no one answered.
Those named in the criminal complaint:
- Kimberly Adema
- Calvin Brown
- Merribeth DeVries
- Kevin Downey
- Curtis Fairchild
- Benjamin Fialek
- Erin Forestier
- Cody Fyre
- Brandon Goerbig
- Casie Hanis
- Nathan Hanis
- Douglis Harjer
- Debora Housley
- James Housley
- Robert Housley
- Vanessa Housley
- Braden Kasper
- Lori Larabel
- William May
- Dalton Miller
- James Moore
- Nicholas Perri
- David Searer
- Molly Taylor
- Shawn Andrew Taylor
- Leslie Wimmer
- Robert White
Undersheriff Hess told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday the investigation into the operation is ongoing and that more arrests could be forthcoming.
According to a news release from the Kent County Sheriff's Department, the bust involved more than 160 officers from:
- The U.S. Attorney's Office
- The DEA's Grand Rapids and Detroit field offices
- The Department of Justice
- The Kent County Sheriff's Department
- Michigan State Police's West Michigan Enforcement Team (WEMET)
- MSP's State, Sheriffs, Chiefs Enforcement Narcotics Team (SSCENT)
- MSP's Traverse Narcotics Team (TNT)
- The East Grand Rapids Department of Public Safety
- Grandville Police Department
- Grand Rapids Police Department
- The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety
- The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety
- The Oceana County Sheriff's Department
- The Muskegon Police Department
- The Muskegon County Sheriff's Department
- Walker Police Department
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
Michigan authorities say at least 20 wolves have been killed in the Upper Peninsula during the state's first wolf hunt in decades.