Package shipped to Michigan with 9-pounds of crystal meth inside - WNEM TV 5

Package shipped to Michigan with 9-pounds of crystal meth inside

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Source: CBS Source: CBS

Investigators say the eight people arrested are the major players in what was a huge drug trafficking operation in Southwest Michigan.

Packages full of crystal meth were mailed from out-of-state and sent to homes in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties to be picked up by dealers who then cut the meth into smaller amounts to be sold, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

“It actually made me really nervous when I found that out because this is not the neighborhood for stuff like that,” said Regina Pelletier, a neighbor.

Investigators said an old church turned into a recording studio on North Westnedge Avenue housed the large amounts of crystal meth before it was cut up and later sold.

“They were looking out the window freaking out because there were a bunch of people over there and they broke into the house or church,” Pelletier said.

Along with state and local drug units, investigators with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration   raided eight homes and businesses in Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties Monday morning.

DEA agents were seen searching another stash house on Portage Street in Kalamazoo as well.

The 200-page criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court names the owner of the old church, Thomas Lee Cowley of Battle Creek, as the co-leader of the drug trafficking operation.

The other major player in the meth ring, Noel Saldana, who investigators said had a source in Arizona where the boxes of meth were shipped from.

An informant told police the 36-year-old is the largest meth supplier in Van Buren County.

Investigators said he and Cowley recruited and employed the six others arrested.

Copyright 2017 CBS News / WWMT. All rights reserved. 

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