Flint Area Narcotics Group

By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.- On Sept. 28, Flint Area Narcotics Group detectives, working with Department of Homeland Security, conducted a controlled delivery of a kilo of cocaine coming from Belize to an address in Flint. The suspect fled when a team of officers approached the residence with a search warrant. A lengthy pursuit ensued and the suspect was arrested. The bust netted guns and a kilo of cocaine was seized from the Flint home.
“If you’re going to attack a problem go to the source,” said Det. First Lt. Eric Wilber, commander of the Flint Area Narcotics Group or F.A.N.G.. “Many times the City of Flint is the problem base, but often customers are not from Flint they are coming from the outside communities.”
Such seizures are results of investigations coordinated by F.A.N.G.. and in September the township board of trustees voted to join the group. The 2021-2022 membership dues for the township are $10,581.95 which will now be part of the township police budget. The amount is based on State Equalization Value and population in the 2011 Census of the township.
“Every community has drugs,” said Wilber, a veteran Michigan State Trooper who also served in the Marines. “It’s about awareness of the drugs, it begins  with our detectives going into the schools to chat with students. The officers sometimes bring in narcotics to show people what they look like and help educate the kids before they get exposed. Too often it’s about turning a blind eye to a real bigger problem.”
Established and operating in Genesee County since 1985, F.A.N.G.. detects and investigates drug-related crimes, and provides specialized services from membership agencies. The group provides resources and equipment to assist with investigating all high-profile criminal activity. The township will now join the Villages of Gaines and Otisville, the Townships of Davison, Flint, Forest, Gaines, Genesee, Grand Blanc, Montrose, Mt. Morris and Mundy, the Cities of Flint, Mt. Morris, Burton, Davison, Fenton, Linden, Mt. Morris and Swartz Creek.“A lot of what we get are outside of the epic center,” he said.
“We are also seeing many narcotics purchased in Europe and then shipped directly to homes in the suburbs—not just Flint,” he said.
Currently the drug of choice is MDMA or ecstasy coming into the country, he said. F.A.N.G. is works with several law enforcement groups including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Postal Service and F.B.I. in tracking these packages.
“It’s often difficult to find the provider, so we look for a controlled delivery,” he said.  Then when the package is delivered to the home we’re there.”
The ongoing pandemic has sparked a spike in the drug trade.
“We notice an increase in drug traffic since the pandemic started last year,” he said. “The amount of cash seizures has increased—it seems they get a stimulus check, cash it and use it for drugs.”
Each month the township is provided a list of about 12-15 busts and active investigations completed by FANG..
“We go after more than just narcotics,” he said. “The FANG team provides covert investigations too and since the pandemic started there’s less of a physical presents conducted.”
Another ongoing investigation are issues with medical marijuana in county townships.
Earlier this year, the Atlas Township passed a series of ordinances regulating where and who is growing medical marijuana.

Township officials say they started to receive complaints, such as odors from flowering growing plants with caregiver operations in some neighborhoods.
David Lattie, township attorney said moving growing operations to areas zoned for industrial use will ease the concerns of residential neighborhoods on several levels.
According to state law, caregivers are allowed 12 marijuana plants for each patient in their care. As a result up to 84 plants could be thriving in the yards of township residents which include 60 plants for patients, 12 plants for recreational marijuana use and 12 plants if the caregiver who holds a medical card.
“We are seeing the excessive marijuana grown by the medical suppliers who create essentially a Black Market,” said Wilber. “We’ve seen grow operations popping up in communities countywide.”
In response to the medical marijuana issues lawmakers are currently considering the Michigan Cannabis Safety Act. The legislation, House Bills 5300-5302 and 5319-5321, creates a new Specialty Medical Grower license for current unlicensed marijuana growers. While still under deliberations, the series of bills would reduce the number of plants grown to 24, reduce the amount of harvested marijuana they may possess from from 15 ounces to five and require producers to reside on the property where the plants are grown.

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