International drug ring smuggled heroin to Muskegon from Tanzania; suspect charged
By John S. Hausman ,
The alleged conspiracy began to unravel in December 2013 when U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized two separate Express Mail parcels addressed to residences in the Muskegon area. Each parcel contained nearly 150 grams of a mixture containing heroin "secreted inside the soles of sandals," the government said.
In an investigation lasting several months, Homeland Security agents tentatively traced the packages, and a third package containing heroin seized in July 2014 at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, to northern Illinois addresses believed to be linked to Baisi. Baisi was still on supervised release from a 2009 federal heroin conviction.
Agents interviewed Baisi Aug. 5 at his Illinois home. In that interview, Baisi allegedly made admissions about taking part in a U.S.-Tanzanian heroin smuggling and money-laundering conspiracy.
After Baisi cooperated for several weeks with the investigation, including handing over one cell phone Aug. 25, the agent received information Sept. 19 that Baisi might try to leave the country on Sept. 22. Customs officers confirmed that Baisi was scheduled to fly out of O'Hare International Airport that day on Emirates Airlines to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania -- a violation of the terms of his supervised release, according to the agent.
Based on that information, the agent obtained a federal arrest warrant, and Baisi was arrested Sept. 22 at a traffic stop in Mount Prospect.
On Oct. 30, Western Michigan's U.S. Magistrate Judge Phillip J. Green signed a detention order keeping Baisi locked up without bail pending his trial.
The judge cited probable cause that Baisi committed a crime with a maximum prison term of at least 10 years, as well as serious risk that Baisi would fail to appear and that he would endanger the safety of another person or the community if freed before trial.
Baisi's appointed attorney, Sharon Turek of Grand Rapids, declined to comment on his case.
The assistant U.S. attorney handling the case did not return a call seeking comment Monday, Nov. 24.
John S. Hausman covers courts, prisons, the environment and local government for MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter.