Manager of Kalamazoo heroin ring gets prison

Quintin Howell
An undated mug shot of Quintin Howell of Kalamazoo.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The last of nine suspects in a Kalamazoo heroin trafficking operation is going to prison.

A federal judge Wednesday sentenced Quintin Howell of Kalamazoo to 15 years in prison for his involvement in a drug trafficking scheme. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Howell was a manager of the drug ring, recruiting and teaching others how to distribute heroin between 2013 and August of 2015.

A photo provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office shows heroin rocks seized during a Kalamazoo trafficking bust in 2015.

The attorney’s office said Howell admitted his conduct involved more than 100 grams of heroin and an assault rifle with the serial number removed.

A photo provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office shows guns seized during a Kalamazoo trafficking bust in 2015.

The 11-month investigation involved the Drug Enforcement Administration, Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team, the Michigan State Police Southwestern Enforcement Team, the FBI and Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. It included two court-ordered wiretaps and led to eight other convictions in three related cases.

In Wednesday’s news release, acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge called heroin a “plague upon our society” and vowed to continue to hold those accountable who “spread this poison in our communities.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 1,980 Michigan residents died from drug overdoses in 2015, which was one of the highest drug mortality rates in the nation.