The federal criminal complaint shines much more light on the case – but it also includes mysteries
One is tragically dead and another suspect is secret – One suspect jailed, the other free on bond – and two others are busted on state charges
Search warrant installation of tracking device on vehicle used by Russell Gustafson and Katie Seymour
By Greg Peterson
U.P. Breaking News
Owner, News Director
A recent federal heroin bust of two Marquette County women – who are among six people who allegedly ran one of the biggest heroin rings highways into the Upper Peninsula – also involves the death of a man who was being investigated by state and federal drug agents plus another suspect not named.
In fact, the heroin ring allegedly involves a man who recently died, the two women, and a fourth suspect who has not been identified by federal officials.
The complaint outlines details of alleged controlled buys involving the suspects including tracking devices and phone analysis. Plus shocking allegations the ring brought the heroin to Sawyer Elementary School and allegedly with a baby in the vehicle. Plus the ring had ties to Ishpeming and allegedly made numerous heroin deliveries at K.I. Sawyer.
31-year-old Julaine Nicole Mankowski and 26-year-old Sara Ann Turner were arrested at the Crossroads as a flurry of police swarmed their vehicle on Nov. 17, 2016.They face federal heroin distribution and conspiracy charges after police received numerous tips about their alleged ring involving the highly addictive drug that many meth addicts have turned to because its cheaper and easier to buy.
The pair are each charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance.
A third major suspect appears to be a life cut short. 35-year-old Ronald Leon Higby recently died before federal charges could be filed against him. “This investigation implicates a (fourth) co-conspirator who will not be named in this criminal complaint,” states the federal criminal complaint. The cause of his death is not disclosed in the complaint.
However, a touching funeral home memorial to Higby is online:
Ronald Leon Higby, age 35, of Gwinn and formerly of Escanaba and Munising, died on Sunday, November 6, 2016 in Gwinn.
He was born on April 21, 1981 in Escanaba to Cynthia Higby and Leon Charles Dube. Ron grew up in Escanaba.
Meanwhile further down in the complaint agents alleged that the unamed co-conspirator allegedly provided heroin to two people to distribute in Munising – identifying the Munising residents as Russell Gustafson and Katie Seymour. Gustafson and Seymour were arrested by Michigan State Police on states charges of possession of heroin.
“UPSET has received numerous tips and phone calls regarding drug trafficking activity involving Mankowski, Turner and Higby,” adding they were in charge of a major heroin distribution ring.
“The majority of the citizens calling to report criminal activity by these individuals have identified Mankowski, Turner and Higby as primary sources for heroin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.,” the criminal complaint states.
During drug trafficking probes UPSET “typically utilizes a confidential informant (CI), a confidential source or an undercover police officer to purchase illegal drugs from a drug trafficker,” the felony complaint states.
“UPSET conducted four controlled purchases of heroin from Mankowski in 2015,” the complaint outlines. “These purchases took place on February 23, 2015, March 5, 2015, March 17, 2015 and April 28, 2015.”
Because of these purchases, Mankowski was prosecuted in state court in Marquette, Michigan and received a delay of sentence and 18 months probation on February 26, 2016 for a guilty plea in a Delivery of Heroin charge from September 2015., the complaint states
During the more recent alleged deliveries of heroin, Mankowski was still is on a probation with the 25th Circuit Court in Marquette.
UPSET recently conducted “additional controlled purchases of heroin from Mankowski and her co-conspirators,” the allegations state.
The complaint outlined the following alleged heroin buys from confidential sources listed as numbers – and in all the cases the undercover informant is checked for drugs prior to making the purchases to ensure standards. Co-conspirator A is mentioned – and the suspect has not been named publicly.
CONTROLLED BUY #1 – August 01, 2016. Confidential source #26915 completed a controlled purchase of heroin from Mankowski and Turner. Confidential Source #26915 was provided $300.00 in pre-recorded UPSET buy money and a covert recording device – and met Mankowski at her residence at 1911 Bancroft Street in Marquette. Surveillance observed the informant get into a car with Mankowski and Turner – a 2007 Ford F150 registered to Martin Edgar who resides with Turner on Barnum Street in Ishpeming. The vehiclerd stopped at Sawyer Elementary School in Gwinn, Michigan, and the informanted exited.The vehicle went to residence on Talon Street at K.I Sawyer, Michigan. The vehicle then returned to Sawyer Elementary School and Confidential Source #26915 re-entered the vehicle. Confidential Source #26915 bought two (2) $150.00 bags of suspected heroin from Mankowski and Turner. The suspected heroin weighed approximately .3 grams. Confidential Source #26915 reported that Mankowski had her 4-month old infant with her. The substance purchased in this controlled buy field-tested positive for heroin. After the controlled purchase was complete, Confidential Source #26915 was debriefed and stated the Heroin was delivered to him/her by Mankowski. C/I stated heroin was laid out on the middle console area when he/she got back into the vehicle. Both Mankowski and Turner were involved in setting up the heroin deal. The recording of the controlled purchase confirmed Confidential Source #26915’s account.
CONTROLLED BUY #2 –August 17, 2016. Confidential Source #26956 completed a controlled purchase of heroin from Higby, Mankowski and Turner on this date. Confidential Source #26956 was searched for contraband. Confidential Source #26956 was provided $100.00 in pre-recorded UPSET buy money and a covert recording device. Surveillance officers observed Confidential Source #26956 meet Higby at his residence, which is located at a known address on Dart Street in Gwinn, Michigan. Confidential Source #26956 reported that he/she gave the UPSET buy money to Higby, who in turn met Mankowski and Turner. Surveillance officers observed Mankowski and Turner travel to the aforementioned known address on Talon Street. The residence is occupied by Co-Conspirator A. Surveillance officers observed Mankowski and Turner leave the residence on Talon Street, and return to Higby’s residence. Confidential Source #26956 reported that Higby then then sold him/her a small amount of suspected heroin in exchange for the $100 in pre-recorded UPSET buy money. UPSET Detectives maintained physical surveillance of Confidential Source #26956, and Higby, Mankowski and Turner when they were outside the aforementioned residence. Surveillance officers observed Turner driving a 2007 Ford F150 red in color bearing MI registration CPM 5747. This is the same vehicle used during the controlled purchase on August 1, 2016. The substance purchased in this controlled buy weighed approximately .2 grams and field-tested positive for heroin. After the controlled purchase was complete, Confidential Source #26956 was debriefed and stated that the money was given to Higby who then gave it to Mankowski and Turner. C/I stated they left and returned a short time later. C/I then received the heroin from Higby. The recording of the controlled purchase confirmed Confidential Source #26956’s account.
CONTROLLED BUY #3 – August 18, 2016. Confidential Source #26956 completed a controlled purchase of heroin from Higby and Turner on this date. Confidential Source #26956 was provided $100.00 in pre-recorded UPSET buy money and a covert recording device. Confidential Source #26956 then met Higby at his known residence on Dart Street and gave him the UPSET buy money. A short time later, surveillance officers observed Turner pull up in a red 2007 Ford F150 bearing MI registration CPM 5747. This is the same vehicle police observed during the two controlled buys on August 1 and August 18, 2016. Surveillance officers observed Higby meet Turner at the driver’s window of this vehicle and observed a quick exchange between them. Surveillance officers observed Turner leave and travel to the aforementioned residence on Talon Street in Gwinn, Michigan. Surveillance officers observed Turner enter this residence, stay inside for a short period of time, and then return to Higby’s residence. Another short exchange between Turner and Higby then took place. The exchange between Higby and Turner was observed by surveillance team members. After this exchange, Higby delivered the suspected heroin to the confidential source. The substance purchased in this controlled buy was field tested and gave a positive indication for heroin.
CONTROLLED BUY #4 –August 24, 2016. Confidential Source #26956 completed a controlled purchase of heroin from Higby on this date. Confidential Source #26956 was provided $100.00 in pre-recorded UPSET buy money and a covert recording device. Confidential Source #26956 then met Higby at his residence at a known address on Dart Street in Gwinn, Michigan. Confidential Source #26956 went inside the residence and purchased suspected heroin from Higby. UPSET Detectives had physical surveillance of the exterior of the residence. The substance purchased in this controlled buy was field-tested and gave a positive indication of heroin. After the controlled purchase was complete, Confidential Source #26956 was debriefed and stated Higby was in possession of the heroin and made the delivery to the Confidential Source. The recording of the controlled purchase confirmed Confidential Source #26956’s account.
In September 2016, UPSET obtained a search warrant authorizing the installation of a tracking device on a vehicle that was known to be used by Russell Gustafson and Katie Seymour. Gustafson and Seymour are suspected of picking up heroin from Co-Conspirator A, in the vicinity of Gwinn, MI, and bringing the heroin to the Munising, MI area. The tracker warrant was authorized on September 8, 2016, and installed on September 12, 2016.
On September 12, 2016, the tracker indicated that Gustafson’s vehicle was stopped in the driveway of Co-Conspirator A. The vehicle left the residence and was stopped by the Michigan State Police. After a short investigation, Gustafson and Seymour were arrested of possession of heroin.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration assisted analyzing phone records from phones used by the suspects. U.S. DEA Special Agent Nyfeler of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration assisted in the analysis.
Criminal history checks show Mankowski felony convictions in 25th Judicial Circuit Court for uttering/publishing in 2011, larceny in a building in 2011, and delivery of heroin in January 2016. Mankowski has misdemeanor convictions for non-sufficient funds in 2010 and operating with presence of controlled substance in 2010.
The investigation was conducted by the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET) that is comprised of state and federal drug agents with wide-ranging expertise in drug trafficking.
The federal complaint was filed by UPSET agent Mark C. Hanes who is with the Marquette Police Department. Among the experience Hanes has under his belt in hundreds of meth probes across the Upper Peninsula including “hundreds of narcotics investigations” and drafting “in excess of 100 search warrants related to narcotics trafficking, manufacturing, and use.”
U.P. Breaking News Update 4:30 p.m. ET 11-19-16:
34-year-old Julaine Nicole Mankowski and 29-year-old Sara Ann Turner arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy P. Greeley on (yesterday) Fri., Oct. 18, 2016.
Turner has been released on bond; Mankowski remains jailed.
Click onthis link below to see lasted federal document for both women – arraignment.
Crossroads in Marquette County, MI: Federal Heroin Suspects Busted and Identified
UPDATE: 11-18-16 11 a.m. ET
We now know more about both federal heroin suspects busted last night in Marquette County – according to federal records obtained by U.P. Breaking News:
Both women face the same charge.
More arrests/names released in federal bust:
The federal heroin suspects in Thursday night’s Crossroads bust are 34-year-old Julaine Nicole Mankowski and 29-year-old Sara Ann Turner, both of the Marquette area.
Both were arrested by police last night at the Crossroads location on M-553 at CR-480 in Sands Township following a local, state and federal drug investigation.
While numerous law enforcement agencies assisted in the bust – the federal heroin suspects Julaine Nicole Mankowski and Sara Ann Turner were arrested of the sealed federal warrants by UPSET agent Mark Hanes in Marquette, MI.
In February 2016, Mankowski of 1911 Bancroft St. in Marquette, pleaded to a 20-year state felony charge of delivery of less than 50 grams of heroin less between February and April 2015 in Marquette. Her sentence on that charge is unclear. It appears she was released in February shortly after sentencing.
The information was released by order of a federal judge.
Scroll down to read more:
Offense Level: 4
21:846=CD.F 21 USC 846, and 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C)
Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute Heroin, a Schedule I Controlled Substance
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat
Previous stories/more info
(Marquette, MI) – Police tonight swarmed a car at the Crossroads in Marquette County that a drug agent in an unmarked car spotted a woman wanted on a sealed federal felony charges for alleged conspiracy to distribute heroin and possibly other drugs.
And another baby is there – but hopefully to young to remember what transpired in a dramatic arrest. That baby was turned over to the grandmother – Turner’s mom.
Around 8 p.m. (Thurs., Nov. 17, 2016) , an investigator radio Marquette County 911 Central Dispatch stating that he had spotted a car with a suspect who had felony warrants and it was headed south on McClellan Street near the Pioneer Park in Marquette. The investigator said the car was likely enroute to K.I. Sawyer (KIS).
Marked patrol cars from several agencies zoomed toward the Crossroads from Harvey and all directions including from the Marquette Police Department.
The vehicle with two females inside was pulled over in a parking lot near the well-known “Crossroads” intersection of County Road 553 and County Road 480.
A federal warrant was outstanding for a 29-year-old Marquette County woman with ties to KIS and Ishpeming. Both KIS and Ishpeming have a huge heroin problem along with meth and pain pills.
The federal felony warrants charge include distribution of heroin and conspiracy to distribute heroin and schedule I drugs. Both women are lodged in the Marquette County Jail.
Body Piercing- Left Nose – twice on left side
Body Piercing- Lower Lip – lower center of lip pierced
Body Piercing- Navel
Body Piercing- Neck – back
Body Piercing- Nipple – both
Body Piercing- Right Face
Tattoo- Front Right Hip
Tattoo- Lower Right Ankle – circle with wavy line
The Correctional Facilities Administration (CFA) is responsible for the operation of the state’s prisons, including the Special Alternative Incarceration Facility (SAI). CFA has administrative offices in Lansing from which the Deputy Director oversees the network of secure facilities.Prisoners incarcerated under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Corrections are provided with an array of prisoner services including health care, mental health care, educational opportunities, and programming opportunities.
The Michigan Legislature requires the MDOC to keep offender information on OTIS for three years after discharge.
Michigan Department of Corrections
206 E Michigan Ave
The story ends