Case involving suspected drug dealer shot by police, will go to grand jury

West Michigan drug bust

A suspected drug dealer shot by police earlier this month at a Grand Rapids apartment complex waived a federal court hearing Wednesday on a criminal charge that could put him in prison for life.

Yusef Phillips, 40, is charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine. Phillips, still recovering from the gunshot wound to his chest, waived a preliminary hearing in U.S. District Court, sending the case to a grand jury. He is being held in the Newaygo County Jail.

Phillips has a prior federal drug conviction for trafficking crack cocaine. He is one of 17 people accused in a cross-country drug operation that shipped narcotics from California to Michigan. The investigation culminated with predawn raids at 18 locations in the Grand Rapids area on Sept. 3.

A Kent County sheriff’s deputy shot Phillips in the chest during the raid at Burton’s Landing Apartments on Whispering Way SE. The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing circumstances of the shooting, which is standard procedure. The raids netted $1.1 million cash, 110 pounds of marijuana, 46 pounds of heroin, 29 pounds of cocaine and four firearms. Investigators last week obtained a search warrant to review the content of 33 cell phones that were seized as part of the raids.

Phillips and co-defendant Ray Anthony Lee, 46, are identified in court records as leaders of the Michigan drug operation, which has been under investigation since spring, 2016. The pair “recruited, instructed, and utilized multiple workers and distributors in furtherance of their drug trafficking,’’ police wrote in a criminal complaint.
The California source of the drugs is identified in court records as 37-year-old Alex Castro. He was arrested in Los Angeles on Sept. 7. Investigators say the group brought more than two pounds of heroin and 11 pounds of cocaine into West Michigan every two to three weeks.

Phillips was sent to federal prison for his role in a 1998 crack cocaine operation in West Michigan. He was released from federal custody in Oct. 2009.

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