GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An Ottawa County man who concealed crystal methamphetamine in packaged dog food mailed to Michigan has been sentenced to more than 12½ years in prison.
Marshall Lee Harris, 26, mailed the hidden drugs from Arizona to his home near Hudsonville, federal investigators said.
“This conduct involved Harris shipping methamphetamine from Arizona to distribute in Grand Rapids,’’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis M. Sanford wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Here, the evidence suggests that Harris repeatedly shipped drugs to his residence.’’
He was charged in November with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, a potential life offense. Harris pleaded guilty in February.
His attorney asked for leniency, saying Harris “mistakenly viewed his involvement as being a mule and that he was simply shipping drugs for other people.’’
“He would be paid for his involvement with the shipping and receiving of the drugs,’’ defense attorney Chris A. Houghtaling wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “To prepare the drugs for shipping, they would be concealed in packaged dog food.’’
The packaged dog food was placed inside another container and sent to Michigan, Houghtaling wrote.
“When he was initially approached to ship drugs and transport cash, Mr. Harris thought he had found a way to make some money,’’ Houghtaling wrote in the sentencing memorandum. “He has come to realize the error of his ways and is remorseful for his involvement in this case.’’
In addition to 151 months in federal prison, U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff on Friday, July 10 ordered Harris to spend five years on supervised release once he gets out of prison.
“I want to make sure anyone who is inclined to get involved in that kind of illegal activity understands that we’re watching, and we will catch you,’’ said Andrew Birge, the U.S. attorney for western Michigan. “And we will bring you to justice.’’
An investigation into Harris’s activities got underway in May of 2019 when the Grand Rapids Police Department vice unit received information about an individual trafficking large amounts of methamphetamine in the area, federal court records show.
A police informant said it was believed that Harris leaves town to purchase and ship back the methamphetamine to the Grand Rapids area via mail, a Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer wrote in a criminal complaint.
Investigators learned that Harris was twice stopped at airports with a large amount of cash, including $10,860 seized from him at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Police worked with postal inspectors to review packages sent to Harris’s home near Hudsonville. Over a five-week span between September and October, five packages with a combined weight of 95 pounds were mailed there from Arizona, court records show.
In early November, investigators became aware that Harris flew from Grand Rapids to Phoenix and back, “and may have mailed a package to himself,’’ court records show.
On Nov. 9, postal inspectors located a package that originated in Phoenix and was destined for Harris’s Hudsonville area home, court records show.
After a trained drug-detection dog indicated the presence of drugs, the package was delivered. Officers watched as a man identified as Harris “came through the garage, retrieved the package and returned inside,’’ according to court records.
Police, who had a search warrant, opened the package and found crystal methamphetamine in 10 tape-sealed containers.
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