Officials busted a drug operation linked to homes in Sterling Heights, Detroit and Harper Woods after searching hidden compartments of vehicles that were loaded onto a car hauler in the parking lot of a Metro Detroit mall.
Agents with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration have been investigating Fredric Arthur Haynes, 39, and Jeremy Brent Joshua, 33, since March 2020 in connection with a drug trafficking organization, according to authorities.
Officials believe Joshua and Haynes conspire together to distribute controlled substances. Haynes, a California resident, obtains drugs in his home state and travels to Michigan to meet with Joshua to distribute the drugs, agents said.
Drugs loaded onto car hauler in mall parking lot
During one of Haynes’ trips to Michigan on Dec. 10, 2020, agents watched the two men deliver two cars, an Acura and an Accord, to a car hauler in the parking lot of the Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights, according to officials.
Agents said Haynes and Joshua delivered the Acura first, then made a second trip to drop off the Accord. Investigators said they saw Haynes speak with the driver of the car hauler both times.
Before the deliveries, Haynes and Joshua visited a condominium on Pendleton Circle in Sterling Heights, authorities said. They would back out of an attached garage that agents suspect was being used to conceal the cars while drugs were being loaded inside, according to the criminal complaint.
After the Acura and Accord were loaded onto the car hauler, investigators followed as it departed the mall parking lot, agents said.
A marked Michigan State Police unit stopped the car hauler at the direction of DEA investigators after witnessing “several traffic violations,” the complaint says.
A drug detecting K9 alerted troopers to search both the Acura and the Accord, police said.
When they searched the Acura, police said they found a concealed compartment in the back seat that contained 990 grams of fentanyl and $140,020 in cash.
In the Accord, officials found a hidden compartment in the dashboard that contained $158,970 in cash, according to authorities.
“With the currency being secreted in hidden compartments and 990 net grams of fentanyl with the currency in the Acura, I believe that the currency was proceeds from the sale of drugs that Haynes, Joshua and potentially others had distributed,” a DEA agent in charge of the investigation said in the complaint.
Officials said Haynes provided his phone number as the contact for the pickup of the vehicles, but used the name “Damien Hayes” as an alias to conceal his identity and remain unassociated with the cars.
Return to Michigan
Agents said they watched Haynes when he returned to Michigan in December 2021.
On Dec. 16, investigators said Joshua traveled to a single-family home on Lappin Street on Detroit’s east side. Over the course of this investigation, agents learned that Joshua had been in the process of renovating that residence for a long time, they said.
Haynes and Joshua spent about seven hours inside the Lappin Street residence before leaving at 1:17 a.m. Dec. 17, according to authorities.
They traveled to Joshua’s primary residence, an apartment on Fleetwood Drive in Harper Woods, officials said. Then, later on Dec. 17, they went to the Pendleton Circle condominium for about 15 minutes before traveling back to Detroit, investigators said.
“Their travel there was out of their way, indicating to me that, like it was in December 2020, their visit was related to their drug trafficking activity,” the DEA agent in charge of the investigation wrote.
Later that day, agents said they saw Joshua perform a suspected drug deal from the Lappin Street residence. They said he met with a man who pulled up in a vehicle, and that men left with a brown bag in his hands.
On Dec. 19, Haynes and Joshua again traveled to the Lappin Street home and stayed for about 45 minutes before leaving. Haynes left Michigan that night and returned to his home in Bakersfield, California, authorities said.
On Dec. 20, investigators executed search warrants at the three locations in Sterling Heights, Detroit and Harper Woods.
At the Lappin Street residence in Detroit, investigators said they seized about 4.96 kilograms of suspected fentanyl. Some of the drugs were found inside a vehicle registered to Joshua that was parked in the garage, authorities said.
Officials said they also seized a kilogram press -- used to repackage drugs into bricks -- with about 1.45 kilograms still in the press.
“With the press being located here and some of the drugs no longer being in brick-like form, but some being separated into smaller baggies for further distribution, I believe Haynes and Joshua used this location to ‘cut’ drugs in an effort to increase the quantity,” the DEA agent in charge of the investigation said in the complaint.
Investigators also seized an unloaded DPMS AR-15 rifle with a magazine from a bedroom closet, they said. The gun is not manufactured in Michigan, so it traveled in interstate commerce, according to the criminal complaint.
When they searched the condominium in Sterling Heights, investigators seized about 11.658 kilograms of suspected fentanyl from a duffle bag in a closet, according to officials. The condominium was otherwise empty, suggesting the men used it exclusively to stash drugs, authorities said.
“I believe that Haynes and Joshua transported kilograms between the Pendleton Circle condominium and the Lappin Street residence, where it appears Haynes and Joshua were breaking down and repackaging drugs to be further distributed to another drug trafficker,” the criminal complaint reads. “This would explain the extensive amount of time Haynes and Joshua spent at the Lappin Street residence the night prior their trip to the Pendleton Circle condominium.”
Joshua was in the bedroom when investigators served a search warrant at his apartment on Fleetwood Drive in Harper Woods, officials said.
Investigators seized about 571 grams of suspected fentanyl from the kitchen of the Harper Woods apartment, agents said. In a second bedroom, officials said they found a pill bottle bearing Haynes’ name, as well as an undetermined amount of cash in a drawer under the bed.
“The money was rubber banded and in stacks, consistent with drug currency, based on my personal experience,” the DEA agent in charge of the investigation wrote.
Officials also seized several garage door openers from the Harper Woods apartment, and one of them opened the garage door to the Pendleton Circle condominium, authorities said.
In total, officials seized about 17.216 kilograms of suspected fentanyl between the three locations, according to the criminal complaint.
A field test of the drugs in the kilogram press from the Lappin Street residence confirmed the presence of fentanyl, agents said. There is probable cause that the other seized drugs likely contain fentanyl, the complaint concludes.
Haynes has a criminal history from three different states that includes a 2011 conviction for possession of a controlled substance and a 2013 conviction for delivering/manufacturing a controlled substance, officials said.
Haynes was discharged from parole in February 2019.
Joshua was convicted on June 22, 2011, for possession of marijuana, on April 12, 2012 for controlled substance possession, and on Jan. 7, 2014, for felony firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm in or at a building, according to authorities.
The criminal complaint argues there is probable cause that Haynes and Joshua possessed, with intent to distribute, at least 400 grams of fentanyl and also conspired with each other to do so. They are both facing a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
Joshua is also facing an additional felon in possession of a firearm charge.