- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2016

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A narcotics detective watched a man exit a bus from Chicago and climb into a vehicle. Another officer tried to pull over the vehicle for traffic violations, but the driver fled. During the pursuit, a bundle flew out of the window.

It contained 1,072.1 grams of heroin, according to a court affidavit.

The street value of the package would be in excess of $225,000 after it is cut, said Sgt. Charles Eldridge of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit.

The three men in the vehicle were indicted in federal court this month on charges they conspired to possess with intent to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin, the Commercial Appeal (https://bit.ly/241SGSH) reported.

The defendants are among 19 people indicted in March in Shelby County Criminal Court on charges they engaged in a conspiracy to possess with the intent to sell heroin within 1,000 feet of Klondike Elementary School, Caldwell Elementary and Northside High School.

During interviews near the schools, people talked about the impact of a heroin conspiracy near children.

Rudell Funzie, 62, said the indictments were “a good thing.”

“I’m against anything they’re trying to do wrong around the kids,” he said. “School is where our kids need to learn.”

Sandra Bowles, 54, said a heroin organization operating near the schools is “crazy.”

“It’s like with all this shooting going on,” she said. “They keep shooting and killing up all our kids. We won’t have anything for the next generation.”

Eldridge said heroin abuse affects people across socioeconomic lines, causing deaths and driving crime, including robberies and shootings.

“Heroin has become an epidemic,” he said.

Because of the amount of heroin and the allegation the crime happened in a drug-free school zone, the range of punishment on the state charges is 15 to 60 years.

Some of the defendants are scheduled for bond hearings this month before Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft, and others have court dates in June.

For the federal charges, the range of punishment is 10 years to life.

U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III said heroin is “ravaging communities across West Tennessee.”

“It’s one of the top priorities for this office to dismantle and bring to justice any individuals and organizations that are responsible for providing this poison and spreading this poison throughout our communities,” Stanton said.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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