STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — A police chase through Sterling Heights ended with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of dangerous drugs off the streets.
Officers tried to pull a car over in the middle of the afternoon Tuesday on Van Dyke, but the driver kept going.
The car then turned into a subdivision before the driver hit a dead end. At that point, he and his passenger jumped out and ran.
Officers jumped out and chased the suspects through backyards, a parking lot and across the road before taking them into custody.
Police then found hidden compartments in the car.
Police say the suspects were undocumented immigrants, transporting fentanyl for a Mexican drug cartel.
They seized 20,000 pills disguised as prescription drugs and other forms of fentanyl all worth $350,000.
“One of those pills could easily kill somebody," said Lt. Mario Bastianelli with the Sterling Heights Police Department. "20,000? That was going to be distributed around metro Detroit.”
“I was not shocked, but it just shows you the magnitude of it," said Linda Davis, executive director of Families Against Narcotics (FAN). "Here it is in our own backyard, and that volume of drugs is alarming.”
Davis has seen the effects of opioids first hand as the executive director of FAN, a nonprofit based in Macomb County. She’s helped countless families struggling with addiction.
“I work with thousands of people every day that have found treatment and recovery and are doing really well,” Davis said.
However, Davis says since the pandemic started, overdose deaths have soared and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s accelerated by synthetic opioids like fentany being cut into many drugs sold the street.
“A lot of people who don't even know they are taking that drug are overdosing and dying as a result of it because everything is being laced,” Davis said. "We know that almost everything is laced with fentanyl right now."
FAN has even partnered with police departments like Sterling Heights, launching a number of different programs to help those battling addiction, while also cracking down on those who are fueling it.
“You’re taking care of the people suffering from addiction, and the people putting the poison on the street go to prison,” Bastianelli said.
“People who use drugs often feel unworthy of help," Davis said. "We as a community really need to embrace the fact that these are people that we really need to be working hard to save."
The male and female suspects are now awaiting felony charges and likely deportation, according to police.
If you or someone you know needs help with substance use, call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.