DETROIT – Four individuals involved in running a drug and human trafficking ring were sentenced Tuesday to up to 20 years in prison.
According to authorities, the ring operated in Warren, Madison Heights and Southfield.
The defendants were sentenced Tuesday in Oakland County Circuit Court. Melvin Niblett, Corey Cooper and Jasmin McGinnis were sentenced to 20 years in prison, while Maurice Rushton was sentenced to 10 years.
According to authorities, Niblett, Cooper, Rushton and McGinnis engaged in an operation to sell drugs through the illicit sale of sexual services. All four have to pay courts fees and are prohibited from having any contact with their co-defendants and victims.
“Opioid addiction is an ever-growing problem and many traffickers use it as a way to force their victims to remain captive,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said. “Today’s sentencing should serve as a warning to traffickers who get their victims hooked on drugs as a way to prey on them. We know the game being played, and I will take these dangerous individuals off the street. I would like to thank the law enforcement officers from Oakland and Macomb Counties, as well as our federal partners at the FBI for their hard work on this case.”
Authorities said the case began in Sept. 2016 when the FBI’s Oakland County Gang and Violent Crimes Task Force received a tip that an individual was running a drug and prostitution operation in Madison Heights. While under investigation, Niblett and Cooper were caught selling drugs in Warren and charged in a separate but related case by Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith. Niblett and Cooper were later released on bond.
Police said they received a tip in Oct. 2016 that Niblett was using rooms at a hotel in Southfield to conduct a drug and human trafficking operation. While dozens of individuals were involved, Niblett is alleged to have been at the top of the operation. Niblett and three others were arrested and charged with a total of 24 felonies.
Niblett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver 50 to 449 grams of cocaine and/or heroin, a 20-year felony and three counts of human trafficking - forced labor, a 10-year felony.
Cooper pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to deliver less than 50 grams of heroin, a 20-year felony.
Rushton pleaded guilty to one count of human trafficking – procuring person for forced labor, a 10-year felony.
McGinnis pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver 50 to 449 grams of cocaine and/or heroin, a 20-year felony and one count of human trafficking – procuring person for forced labor, a 10-year felony.
"Victims of sexual exploitation and drug addiction in Macomb and Oakland counties are safer today following the investigative work that resulted in the successful dismantlement of these defendants' illicit criminal enterprise," David P. Gelios, FBI special agent in charge, said. "This sort of predatory behavior simply cannot be tolerated in our communities. While a notable achievement, residents are urged to remain alert to indicators of human trafficking and to call the FBI or state or local law enforcement when suspicious or illegal activity is observed."