Detroit-based heroin distribution ring shut down by KPD, DA's office

The Knoxville Police Department and District Attorney's office say a club just north of Fort Sanders had ties to a national heroin distrubtion ring. 8-8-14

(WBIR-Knoxville) The Knoxville Police Department and District Attorney's office say a club just north of Fort Sanders had ties to a national heroin distribution ring. Chalmers Grill and Night Lounge was used as an operation hub for bringing the dangerous drug to East Tennessee, according to investigators.

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Authorities said the Motor City is the main source of heroin in Knoxville and they're doing whatever they can to get it off East Tennessee's streets.

"Tennessee has a large supply of addicts and dealers from out of state, predominately Detroit, see basically a large customer base," said Sean McDermott, Knox County Assistant District Attorney.

Police arrested Knoxville business owner Rickey Brown on Thursday. They said he was the head of a "criminal conspiracy to import heroin from Detroit Michigan and sell it in Knoxville".

"The nuisance was served along with a state search warrant based on repeated sales," said McDermott. "KPD made three controlled purchases of heroin from inside the club on three separate occasions."

Authorities said drugs being brought in to Knoxville from out of state isn't anything new.

"We've seen heroin distribution rings out of Detroit and Chicago, larger cities especially on the interstate system," said McDermott.

Deborah Huddleston of the Metropolitan Drug Commission agrees.

"I-40 and I-75 both cross over in Knoxville. That's definitely giving these people who are bringing the drugs in an opportunity to come into Knoxville," she said.

Huddleston said heroin is making a comeback and it's not the same as it used to be.

"Today's heroin is 80 to 90 percent more pure than the heroin that was used back in the '70s and '80s. That was about 15 percent pure," she said. "So it's much more potent."

Authorities said heroin can be a major danger to the surrounding community and suspected drug hubs like Chalmers are a nuisance and should be shut down.

"Local law enforcement is utilizing all the means that they have, making controlled purchases of heroin like in this case, and using those buys to attempt to obtain search warrants wherever appropriate. If we feel it's necessary, the DA's office will seek and use the nuisance law," said McDermott.

Authorities said this case is the 44th nuisance closure by the District Attorney's Office and Knoxville Police Department. They said the state will continue to seek nuisance injunctions for problem properties to keep neighborhoods safe.


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