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Father and son face same federal charge linked to heroin trafficking

The father, James Kuykendoll, Sr., pleaded guilty and faces up to 30 years in prison; his son has a federal court hearing this week.
Credit: Kent County Jail
James Kuykendoll Jr. was indicted on a federal drug charge in February; he was arrested this month.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids man, who, along with his father, was under investigation in two states for drug trafficking, has been arrested on a federal heroin charge.

James Richard Kuykendoll, Jr., 29, is charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin in Kent County. Although Kuykendoll was indicted in February, he wasn’t arrested until recently. The case was unsealed on Tuesday, Nov. 10. 

He had been on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of wanted fugitives. 

Since September of 2019, James Richard Kuykendoll Jr. and his father, 47-year-old James Richard Kuykendoll Sr., along with several others, had been under investigation by police in Michigan and Illinois for drug trafficking activities. Agencies involved included the DEA, Michigan State Police, the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team and Grand Rapids Police Department.

Federal court records refer to it as the Kuykendoll Drug Trafficking Organization. Father and son both have prior drug arrests in Grand Rapids.

“The Kuykendoll DTO has an unknown source of supply located in Chicago, Illinois for heroin/fentanyl,’’ federal court records show. “The Kuykendoll DTO provides bulk cash to the unknown source of supply in Chicago, Illinois in exchange for the narcotics.’’

Those details were contained in an August search warrant for two phones seized during James Kuykendoll Sr.’s arrest in Chicago. He, too, had been on the DEA’s list of wanted fugitives.

At the time of his August arrest, police had accumulated evidence linking the elder Kuykendoll to drug trafficking in metro Grand Rapids.

The evidence was taken during a December, 2019 search of his apartment on Four Mile Road NW. Officers seized about 36 grams of heroin from a kitchen stove vent, a hand press, two digital scales, four cell phones and approximately $5,850 in cash, court records show.

Kuykendoll Sr. said he wanted to cooperate with law enforcement and stayed in contact with police for about three weeks “before ultimately ending all contact with law enforcement,’’ court records show.

An arrest warrant was authorized in February of this year. After his arrest in Chicago, Kuykendoll Sr. was returned to western Michigan to face federal prosecution. 

He pleaded guilty two weeks ago to possession with intent to distribute heroin. The charge stems from the raid at his apartment on Four Mile Road NW. Sentencing for Kuykendoll Sr. is set for March of 2021; he’s facing up to 30 years in prison.

His son, meanwhile, is also facing up to 30 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute heroin. That for an offense in Kent County in mid-January. 

Kuykendoll, Jr. has a court appearance set for Friday in Grand Rapids.

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