GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — An Ottawa County man found with several pounds of crystal methamphetamine mailed from Arizona to his Hudsonville area home has been charged with a federal drug crime that has him facing at least 10 years in prison.
The total weight of the seized methamphetamine, including packaging, was 12½ pounds, federal court records show.
The package, found next to Marshall Lee Harris on a sofa at his home, resulted in a federal charge of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
The package was mailed from Phoenix in early November. A photo of the man conducting the Phoenix transaction was identified as being Marshall Harris, court records show. Police say the package arrived at his house a few days later.
Federal investigators say a growing number of drug traffickers are using the U.S. Postal Service to move narcotics.
Nearly 97,000 pounds of mailed narcotics, including methamphetamine, were seized by postal inspectors and partner law enforcement agencies, according to a United States Postal Inspection Service report for the 2018 fiscal year.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge, whose western Michigan office is prosecuting Harris, said meth through the mail is an ongoing problem.
“I would say probably 40 percent of all the narcotics prosecution cases we bring, there has been some degree and some involvement of using the mail system,’’ Birge said in a recent interview. “And we do try to actually intercede as much as possible.’’
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.
More stories on 13 ON YOUR SIDE:
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.