Detroit— Federal drug agents are raiding part of the Russell Industrial Center at Clay and Interstate 75 Friday morning as part of an investigation into illegal marijuana production, The Detroit News has learned.
Shortly after 10 a.m., the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration started executing search warrants at the hulking warehouse. At least a dozen Detroit police and DEA agents were spotted entering the complex at 10:18 a.m. A police cruiser and U-Haul truck were blocking the Russell complex entrance off Clay Street.
There are a couple of medical marijuana companies based in the center. The complex also houses other businesses, including printing, bindery, woodworking and graphics firms.
The DEA confirmed they were executing a search warrant, which is sealed in federal court, but spokesman Rich Isaacson declined further comment.
Detroit resident James Turner works across Clay and saw about a dozen vehicles carrying federal agents and officers from Detroit and other departments enter the complex after 10 a.m.
Agents stopped a man driving a black Cadillac along Clay, who Turner says is connected to the building. Agents searched him and seized a handgun, Turner said.
Turner welcomed the investigation.
“We need this; the city has lost control. The drug dealers control everything,” said Turner, 55.
The complex, which has a food court, draws a lot of shoppers and others, Turner said.
“They get a lot of traffic,” he said. “They can shop and get their dope, too.”
Officers turned away a constant stream of cars Friday driven by people trying to pull into the complex off Clay.
Detroiter Blaise “Blaze” Woods was stopped by a DEA agent while trying to enter the complex, where the 21-year-old shortstop trains for the Henry Ford Community College baseball team.
Woods works out at a training facility on the third floor and has smelled marijuana inside the building before.
“You can smell it real strong,” Woods said.
The Russell Industrial Center, 1600 Clay St., is owned by the Clay Street Group LLC, which lists Dennis Kefallinos as its resident agent and member, according state records. The property is delinquent on $93,000 in 2010 taxes.
Kefallinos is a longtime Detroit real estate investor and owns several downtown buildings and businesses, including the strip club Bouzouki, Coaches Corner, Loco Bar & Grill and other restaurants
It is at least the second major federal raid into marijuana in the past year in Metro Detroit.
Last spring, the DEA raided several locations in Oakland and Wayne County connected to businessman Romel Casab, a purported owner of the Packard Motor Car Co. plant in Detroit. That probe, also led by the DEA, is investigating Casab for drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies, according to federal court records.
Part of the sprawling Russell Industrial Complex is used as an arts bazaar and small-business haven.
via Detroit News