A federal jury this week convicted brothers Lionel and Thomas Beard of leading a major drug syndicate based right here in Lansing. Local and federal investigators are now releasing details of how the Beard drug ring was brought down.
Police believe the ring had only 14 members. But they say the drug operation was large enough to import heroin directly to Lansing from outside the U.S.
"This is heroin," Lansing Police Officer Lee McCallister, who works in narcotics, said. "Heroin that comes in ... straight from the border."
Police found plenty of drugs.
"Large amounts of crack cocaine," McCallister said.
And plenty of weapons to intimidate addicts and protect the dealers.
"(These) were both stolen from the Williamston area," he said.
All found when local police and federal drug agents broke up a Lansing narcotics ring.
The ringleader, 49-year-old Lionel Beard of Lansing, was convicted this week of running a criminal operation, dealing drugs and for being a felon in possession of guns. His younger brother, 34-year-old Thomas Beard of Meridian Township, was convicted by the same federal jury for weapons possession and dealing.
Investigators say the conviction of the two brothers spells the end of the Beard drug ring. They say everyone else has already been found guilty.
"They were responsible for quite a lot of the heroin traffic into Lansing here for quite a number of years," Lansing Police head of special operations Lt. Larry Klaus said.
Prosecutors say now, they'll be in prison for quite a number of years.
"Double digit (prison) time for all 14 of these individuals," Ingham County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ray Purdy said. Purdy works in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's office for the Western District of Michigan in federal drug and gun cases.
The investigation started back in 2002. Called Project Safe Neighborhoods, it's a partnership between Lansing police and the federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
McCallister says the ring unraveled when street informants turned on their dealers.
"Our undercover officers made calls, made purchases. (They) started following those people to where they went. All things led back to Lionel Beard at that time," McCallister said.
With the Beard ring out of action, police officials say they've noticed a dip in heroin trafficking in the city.
"There has been a visual decrease in the Heroin that's come into Lansing," Klaus said.
But McCallister says other dealers are beginning to take hold.
"There are other drug organizations that we can focus on that have taken the place of those we have taken to jail," he said.
Klaus says the department put hundreds of hours into the investigation -- and roughly 50 officers played some part in breaking up the Beard ring.
-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.