6 arrested in drug bust at GM Powertrain plant

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 18

A yearlong investigation into drug dealing at the GM Powertrain plant on Alexis Road culminated in an afternoon drug bust and six arrests yesterday.

Nearly two dozen Toledo police officers converged on the facility at 4 p.m., then went inside with half a dozen drug-sniffing dogs to arrest five workers. A sixth who was on sick leave was arrested at home.

“We have a lot of great people who work at this plant, and we have an obligation to maintain a safe workplace for them,” said Pete Felton, the plant’s personnel director.

Arrested on indictments were Henry Groves, 37, of 940 Buckingham St.; Winston Logan, 44, of 6624 Dorr St.; Matthew Langenderfer, 31, of 4127 Bowen Rd.; Durell Hall, 39, and Jerome Granderson, 39, both of Ypsilanti, Mich., and Rodney Johnson, 35, of Detroit.

The six were booked into the Lucas County jail on charges ranging from felony trafficking in cocaine and other drugs to misdemeanor drug abuse. Jail officials did not know when the men would appear in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

GM officials had begun an internal investigation into allegations of drug sales in October, 1997. The company hired a private security firm, North American Security Solutions, Inc., of Vandalia, O.

One of the security firm’s employees infiltrated the plant, working on an assembly line to learn about alleged trafficking in cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and prescription medications. Thirteen months later, it paid off with arrests.

Three of the men who were arrested had suspected drugs in their possession – one had $1,000 in heroin, and two had marijuana, said Michael P. Spencer, president of the security firm. The two with marijuana were standing at their work stations at the time, he said.

From the investigation’s start, the security firm and GM made sure they involved Toledo police, vice-narcotics Sgt. Bill Wauford said. Whenever drug buys were made, the evidence was turned over to police for analysis.

The plant employs 4,200 hourly workers and 320 salaried personnel in a 1.8-million square foot facility. It has been on Alexis Road since 1956.

Mr. Felton would not say if the investigation uncovered actual drug sales or drug use at the plant, or if the deals simply were struck there. “We’re simply a microcosm of the outside world,” he said. He said the company offers drug and alcohol treatment programs to its employees.

A man who answered the phone at the UAW Local 14 work center inside the plant last night said the union would have no comment on the bust. He refused to identify himself. Mr. Spencer said his company has 26 similar operations going on nationwide.

“Typically, we find a way to get an operative in the plant, so they actually work alongside these employees, and gain their trust and confidence,” he said.