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Nearly 50k pills from India seized in Ottawa County; 2 charged

From April 5 to June 3 of 2022, detectives say an 28 packages were seized from P.O. boxes in the Spring Lake, Grand Haven and Holland areas.

SPRING LAKE, Mich — Two people are facing charges after investigators in Ottawa County say the confiscated 50,000 controlled substances and non-narcotic pills being sent to West Michigan from India.

Back in March of 2022, investigators with the Department of Homeland Security in Miami, Florida seized a package that was scheduled to be delivered to a P.O. Box in Spring Lake with 990 controlled substance pills.

A few days later, on April 1 of 2022, detectives with the West Michigan Enforcement Team and local Homeland Security investigators conducted surveillance on the delivery to the P.O. Box in Spring Lake.

Detectives witnessed a person, later identified as Patrick Powers, pick up the package and made contact with him and knew there were additional packages set to be arriving in the future.

Powers, 55, of Fruitport, is currently is charged with four counts of conspiracy to deliver a schedule four controlled substance and two counts of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, non-narcotic. 

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During one of these seizures,  a subject later identified as Matthew Podein, showed up at the Spring Lake P.O. box and attempted to impersonate a police officer in an attempt to take possession of the three packages containing 6,000 controlled substance pills.

"They wanted to see how far up the chain they could go," said Lewis Langham, Professor Emeritus at WMU's Cooley Law school, and a former detective for Michigan State Police. "These types of investigations can sometimes take a while because authorities want to see how much information they could get out of the first individuals to help them determine who else is involved, how it's coming into the country, and how it's arriving into the state of Michigan."

Podein, 33, of Grand Haven, has already pled guilty and has been sentenced for impersonating a police officer and conspiracy to deliver a schedule four controlled substance.

"We're dealing with drugs that are classified as Schedule II and Schedule IV controlled substances," said Langham, "and those can be very, very powerful drugs."

From April 5 to June 3 of 2022, detectives say an additional 27 packages were seized from P.O. boxes in the Spring Lake, Grand Haven and Holland areas.

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In total, approximately 50,000 controlled substance and non-narcotic prescription pills were seized from these packages. It was determined that the pills were being purchased through the internet and were being shipped from India.

"It's of such a high amount, that it's quite obvious that it is not for personal consumption," said Langham, "but rather that you have this in your possession for the benefit of sale for profit."

"It seems to never end, meaning that the drug trafficking is so profitable that it never goes away," he added. "So law enforcement is obviously doing the best to stop as much of it as they can."

The types of pills seized during this investigation were:

  • Carisoprodol – Schedule 4 controlled substance
  • Modafinil – Schedule 4 controlled substance
  • Tapentadol – Schedule 2 controlled substance
  • Armodafinil – Schedule 4 controlled substance
  • Tadalafil – Non-narcotic, prescription needed
  • Sildenafil Citrate – Non-narcotic, prescription needed

"It's kind of surprising to me, because it involves so many different drugs," Langham said. "I mean, it runs the entire gamut from muscle relaxants, to stimulants, to opiates, all the way to Viagra-type drugs."

"And it's concerning because we don't know where those drugs ended up," he added.

According to the Better Business Bureau, Patrick Powers is also the owner of a company in Grand Haven called "Better Health Products," located on N. 7th Street in Grand Haven. The number connected to the business was offline when 13 On Your Side called.

Powers currently awaiting trial in circuit court. 

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