“The DEA has seen this trend throughout the years, a lot of it has to do with Detroit being a source city of narcotics,” Special Agent Brett Pritts with the Drug Enforcement Administration said. 

What traffickers from Knoxville can do is drive, take a bus or even use couriers to go to the Detroit area to purchase larger quantities of heroin at a cheaper price, return to Knoxville to distribute it and increase their profits because of the lower price they’re getting it for in Detroit.

When asked how long this has been going on, Special Agent Pritts said, “That’s a great question, I’ve talked to some people about the history between Knoxville and Detroit and some people have told me that decades ago when the auto industry was booming in Detroit, a lot of Knoxville people moved to the Detroit area and some of their family members and friends remained behind so there was always this connectivity.” 

“Apparently Fentanyl – from our sources – gets imported from China into Canada and comes down across our northern border and apparently it’s more accessible, cheaper and then gets brought down the I-75 corridor and into Tennessee,” said United States Attorney for Eastern District of Tennessee, Douglas Overbey. 

Agent Pritts adding that “the shattered lives and the families born from this crisis deserve justice and the DEA is willing and able to use all the tools at our disposal to make sure justice is served.” Part of that stems from working alongside the DEA office in Detroit. 

“It could be undercover operations, it could be the use of confidential sources, we also do wiretap investigations where we’re listening to peoples phone calls in order to determine their methods and practices and then we position ourselves to arrest them,” Agent Pritts added.

U.S. Attorney Overbey confirmed the indictments of 41 individuals as a part of that justice. 

“It’s significant… anytime you can take down an organization this size and with out-of-state connections, it’s significant for the area and there will be an effect,” said Pritts. 

Federal agencies help investigate those deaths and take them back to a source of supply for prosecution, promising whoever delt those ultimately fatal drugs to victims will go to jail.

“Fentanyl is 100-times more powerful than morphine and that presents a particular problem, Overbey said. “Folks apparently want more kick when they take an illegal substance, fentanyl furnishes that additional kick, but it also kills.”