The first person in the Detroit-to-Warren drug pipeline has pleaded guilty to his role in the drug distribution network and a second has indicated he will plead guilty later this week.
Ahman McCollum, 28, pleaded not guilty to being part of the drug trafficking ring on Thursday in U.S. Northern District Court in Cleveland.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 19 by Judge Donald C. Nugent.
Chance Wells, 22, of Laird Avenue S.E., is scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday before Nugent. If the plea goes through, he would be the second indicted in the drug trafficking scheme authorities believe brought violence in to the area.
Several alleged members of the drug trafficking ring had direct or indirect ties to several murders in Warren during the last three years, according to records and interviews.
The indictment alleges Valentino Thomas Sr., 41, and Derrick Peete, 23, of Detroit, obtained drugs in Detroit and sold them to Anthony L. Ector, 29, of Warren, to distribute to 18 street dealers, including McCollum and Wells.
Peete and Thomas Sr., and many of the street dealers, have violent criminal pasts with ties to murder and other violent crimes.
Thomas was indicted on three counts of distributing heroin. Echo is facing 21 counts of distributing heroin and Peete is facing two counts of heroin dealing.
Thomas, whose criminal records extends to 1992 and includes aggravated arson, aggravated robbery, drug trafficking and felonious assault, was interviewed by police following the fatal shooting of Thomas’ brother, Stanley Thomas on Oct. 16, 2011 at Clancy’s Bar.
Valentino Thomas, and his sister, Yolanda Holmes, who died in a fatal fire in March 2012, met with city officials three days later to try and keep Clancy’s opened. It was eventually shuttered.
Investigators said after that shooting they suspected Detroit gangs were involved in the shooting.
Court records say McCollum called Ector three times asking for drugs between Oct. 17 and Nov. 23.
Ector directed McCollum to meet him at the Hair Depot on Youngstown Road S.E. twice.
Wells, records say, called Ector three times between Oct. 25 and Nov. 5. Ector told him to meet him at the Hair Depot, at the Pit Stop gas station across from Warren G. Harding High School and in the parking lot of Big Lots on Mahoning Place N.W.
Police caught Wells on Nov. 27 with 6.6 grams of heroin and a small amount of cocaine, records say.