Police aid FBI in heroin sting operation

Grafton department joins federal authorities in raid of First Avenue house as they search for distribution suspect
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Grafton Police Department last week assisted the FBI as it raided a house in the village in a search for one of eight men arrested in connection with a Milwaukee-based heroin distribution ring.

The search was conducted at 5 a.m. at the house in the 1800 block of First Avenue, as authorities looked for James Harris, 52, Grafton Police Chief Charles Wenten said.

Harris was not found at the house. Wenten said his department had not had contact with Harris before the raid.

The raid was one of several conducted by the FBI and law-enforcement agencies early Aug. 8 as part of a crackdown on a gang with Chicago connections that was selling heroin in Milwaukee, authorities said.

The U.S. Department of Justice said authorities recovered heroin, 11 firearms, approximately $30,000 and a number of vehicles at the raids, but did not specify what was recovered in Grafton.

Harris, who has a Grafton address but previously lived in Milwaukee, and seven others were arrested Aug. 8, according to the Justice Department.

A press release from the Justice Department said the raids and arrests resulted from a “long-term federal, state and local drug investigation into heroin trafficking in Milwaukee.

“The fight against heroin is a matter of life and death,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger wrote in the press release. “This take-down reflects the commitment of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to stop the flow of heroin into our communities.”

The men, including Harris, were charged with a total of 20 counts of distributing a controlled substance between April 2017 and May 2018, authorities said. Harris and two of the men were also charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin, they said.

According to federal court records, the men will be held in jail pending their trial. 

One of those charged, James Coleman, 60, died in the Waukesha County Jail the day after his arrest, apparently because he swallowed packets of heroin during a raid on Milwaukee’s north side, authorities said. Several other suspects also became ill after ingesting packets of drugs, but it is not clear if Harris was among them.

FBI spokesman Leonard Peace would not comment further, noting the investigation is ongoing.

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