MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - Nine men tied to one of the world's most dangerous drug cartels were arrested after a cocaine ring bust in West Michigan.
The Sinaloa cartel is responsible for murders, kidnappings and moving tons of drugs around the world. The cartel's leader is the world's most wanted man -- and also one of the richest, appearing on Forbes' list of the worlds top billionaires.
At least some of the cocaine the group here in West Michigan received and sold came from the cartel, federal court documents show.
Starting in 2010, cocaine shipments from southern California were sent through the United States Postal Service to four houses, three of which were in quiet neighborhoods in Muskegon.
Some of that cocaine came from sources affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel.
Michael French lives next to one of the houses that allegedly received the cocaine.
"I knew them. Both my wife and I would talk to them almost every day, so that was a shocker," French said.
According to the federal court documents obtained by 24 Hour News 8, after the cocaine made it to Muskegon, it would be sold and the money would be deposited into bank accounts at Bank of America and Chase Bank. In all, more than $330,000 was deposited into the accounts.
But the operation came to an end in February 2012 following an investigation headed up by Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the West Michigan Enforcement Team and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"We were in the house and then all of a sudden the SWAT team came from all over. They came from the back. They blocked our cars in. The State Police. The whole SWAT team," French recalled. "They came busting in, they yelled police, search warrant and went busting in."
French says he also saw one man arrested by a SWAT team at the Muskegon post office.
"I was at the post office when they caught one also, picking up a box from the post office. We watched them, the SWAT team come in over the counter and everything after him," French said.
The arrests were a surprise for many in the neighborhood who would never have expected anyone in their area to be connected to a dangerous drug cartel.
"I'm happy they got him. It's still scary because you don't know where else they could be around here," French said.
All nine men pleaded guilty to drug charges in federal court in Grand Rapids. They were then sentenced to federal prison.
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