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The War in Kalamazoo


The War in Kalamazoo

Interstate 94 east of Chicago may not be the most picturesque part of that long road from Billings, but, for a drug dealer, it could feel like one of the most profitable. See, that’s where the 10-lane highway bypasses poor Gary and begins showing signs for Michigan, where drugs sell for double the price. In fact, with I-94 teasing traffickers about Lansing (Illinois) and Michigan City (Indiana), novices generally start getting giddy well in advance of the Wolverine State line. Some have gotten too giddy. And witnesses even claim to have found suspicious car crash victims who couldn’t say anything but Kalamazoo.

Okay, so maybe we’ve exaggerated. Then again, maybe we haven’t. A Cartel courier could easily get confused to find their route had more than one Lansing or that Michigan City wasn’t in, well, Michigan. They’d also likely be taken aback by a colorful place name like Kalamazoo. Heck, born and bred Americans have been having fun with the name since forever.

Unfortunately, the driver who may or may not be puzzled by the road or the route or the word Kalamazoo is not coming for fun. Not in any traditional sense. Oh, sure, the pills and the powders secreted within the vehicle will be marketed and sold as party drugs. But the laughs won’t last. Heck, by the time that particular batch of narcotics has fully circulated, Kzoo will be lucky to see a smile. No, if anything, this eastbound clown is coming to turn the town’s smiles upside down. And the faces left in the bozo’s wake will be wearing something far worse than frowns.

Covering Kalamazoo

We got the goods from News Channel 3 reporter Allie Jennerjahn, who pulled a ride-along with DEA Agent Steve Verdow. Though Agent Verdow didn’t take Jennerjahn to see any Kalamazoo trap houses per se (hey, you don’t wanna tip the bad guys), he did make it clear that deadly fentanyl was flooding into Kalamazoo, city and county, as well as the rest of the state. In fact, last year Michigan-based DEA agents seized 19 million fentanyl-laced pills. That’s just about two lethal servings for each of the state’s 10 million residents.

Seems the Mexican Cartels are so nice they’re going to kill everyone twice!

We’re only half joking. Yes, the Cartels are kindly supplying enough fentanyl for every Michigander to have seconds. And yes, the state’s overdose death toll continues to climb. But the fentanyl peddlers aren’t killing people twice; they’re killing them three, four and five times, if not even more.

That’s right. Someone overdoses and dies. Another someone Narcans them back to life. Then Someone #1 goes out and dies all over again.

Some someones aren’t so lucky, especially in the smaller municipalities like Kalamazoo. It’s not so much that Narcan is harder to come by (though there often is that), but that fentanyl is becoming more and more prevalent.

Want proof? Ask Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner Joyce deJong, who told WIN Country’s Ken Delaney that synthetic opioid overdose deaths doubled in Kalamazoo County last year. Want more proof? Then ask the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team (KVET), who, writes WKZO’s Jerry Malec, seized four kilos of fentanyl and fentanyl-laced drugs as recently as November. And if those two don’t sway you, well, get back on the ride-along with Agent Verdow and Reporter Jennerjahn.

Kalamazoo Ride-Along

Yes, about that ride-along. According the Agent Verdow, Kalamazoo has become a drug hub. Much of that of course has to do with geography. As the first semi-major Michigan city to be hit traveling east from Chicago, it’s perfectly situated to serve as a distribution point.

Equally important: Kzoo is perfectly-sized to make a fast profit – and not just off the usual suspects either. In fact, insists Verdow, today’s drug market exists “across the board.”

The Cartels not only know this; they’re exploiting it. Specifically, Verdow tells Hennerjahn, it’s either the Sinaloa Cartel or its rival CJNG (Jalisco New Generation Cartel). How are they doing it? Fentanyl, of course, which is cheap to buy, easy to add and super potent. Cuts the cost of doing drug business down to a fraction of what it used to be.

It also kills people with greater efficiency. Much greater efficiency.

“You are literally playing Russian Roulette,” said Brian McNeal, of the Detroit DEA office. “If you’re not getting your pills from your doctor [or] your pharmacy, you have a 60% chance of getting a pill that could kill you.”

Americans know this too, of course. Yet they continue to risk it. Sure, many of the current crop of pill poppers began as unwitting victims of Big Pharma’s massive pill-pushing protocols. But that was then. Now that people know better, they’re supposed to do better.

To that end the Michigan created a tool to track Schedule 2-5 drugs. It’s called the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), and it’s “used by prescribers and dispensers to assess patient risk, [as well as] to prevent drug abuse and diversion at the prescriber, pharmacy, and patient levels.”

Fentanyl may be flooding into Kalamazoo, but the city and county and state are doing their best to keep folks from drowning. So are the DEA and News Channel 3. The least we can do is our part.

Great Gratitude

Healing Properties wholeheartedly thanks reporter Allie Jennerjahn and the News Channel 3 I-Team for putting together such a keen three-minute piece. We also thank DEA Agents Steve Verdow and Brian McNeal for providing first-person insight. Furthermore, we thank Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner Joyce deJong, the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, and the agents and operatives behind the Kalamazoo chapter of the DEA’s Operation Engage. These folks work overtime to help make their community safe, we owe them all our deepest gratitude.

If you or a loved one is fighting fentanyl addiction (or, for that matter, any other sort of substance abuse), please give someone a call. If you can’t find someone, then please call us. We’ll help get you sorted.

A Note

The war for America’s safety isn’t limited to Kalamazoo of course; it’s raging on the streets of every city in the country, regardless of size. But News Channel 3’s keenly-edited clip shows both Kalamazoo town and county are bringing the the fight to the dealers and traffickers, while minimizing the harm done to its citizens. And they’re doing it with a little help from their Fed friends. Yes, peace shall come to Kalamazoo Valley – you can bet on it!

Kalamazoo Valley Museum Sundial Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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