WKYT Investigates: Lexington's crime 'Made in Detroit'

DETROIT (WKYT) - For months, law enforcement in Central Kentucky have explained that much of the drug problem is coming from the north.

"They're in here causing all kinds of problems," said Richmond Assistant Chief Bob Mott back in March.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton arrested several people from out-of-state back in January. "This was probably the largest heroin bust that I'm aware of in the county," Melton said.

In Lexington, a heroin ring was arrested at the Hyatt last year. Police said in a news conference Monday of 198 heroin arrests in Lexington, many of the suspects are from Detroit.

Court documents show that one out of six people arrested on first degree trafficking in heroin cases in Lexington since January 1, claimed the hometown of Detroit.

"The heroin in this community tends to follow that I-75 corridor from Detroit down," explained Lt. Scott Blakely.

"Illegal drugs are largely fueling the violence on our streets," said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. Violence that's hit a high this summer with more than a dozen shootings and five murders in the past two months.

So WKYT headed to the place known as the start of the heroin highway.

"If you're seeing an up-tick in Lexington, Kentucky, just look to detroit. Look at that history. It could be what's driving it," said Former FBI Special Agent Andy Arena.

He and former Detroit Police Officer Lyle Dungy are now with the Detroit Crime Commission. They took WKYT for a ride through the east end of Detroit. It is an area referred to as the "Red Zone," run by a gang called the Seven Mile Bloods. Dungy and Arena ride with the windows cracked. They said it's easier to hear screams and gunshots: signs we need to leave.

There were groups of men. Hand signals let us know not to pass them again. "You saw it for yourself. Those guys flashing gang signs. So there were at least two situations where we drove by and there were known gang members and they saw us. They saw your cameras. They weren't happy," Arena said.

But most of the drive there was no one to see. Many burned out homes and empty, overgrown lots. "I used to do a lot of raids in this area and back then it didn't look as bad as it does now," Dungy remembered.

Dungy and Arena said work they've done to stop drug trafficking on these streets has pushed some of the trouble out, and south. They said the Seven Mile Bloods are a gang known to export, mainly heroin, down I-75. "If you've got people fighting over the same drug here, take the show on the road," Arena said.

"The profits that are made down south are double, triple what can be made up here. The gangs know that and they go down there to try to exploit that," Dungy explained.

Lexington officials said that exploitation has slowed as of late. With drug stings focusing on heroin, they're getting a handle on who's bringing it in and the potential of the violence the Detroit natives, in turn, carry with them.

"When you get a spike like that there's usually an underlying current, something is causing it," Arena said.

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