Undercover customer helps cops catch Macomb County man dealing heroin, fentanyl

Owner of Detroit gas station taken into custody

A gas pump. (Pixabay)

An undercover customer working with police helped them catch a gas station owner from Macomb County who was dealing fentanyl and heroin.

Livonia police said they started investigating Barry Anthony Willis, 55, of Clinton Township, in September 2023 after they received a tip from someone who had bought heroin from him in the past, according to a criminal complaint.

Willis, known to the informant as “Blue,” owned the Citgo gas station and adjoined car wash near the corner of Livernois and Davison in Detroit.

Cops monitor drug deals

Police told the informant in February to meet up with Willis to buy drugs, the complaint says. Willis agreed to meet the informant at a specific location, a Livonia officer said after listening to the conversation.

Livonia police went to the meeting spot and watched as the informant arrived and waited for Willis. Officials said Willis arrived in a dark green Jeep Gladiator, and the informant got into his front passenger seat.

The informant got out of the Gladiator, drove away, and met with officials to confirm Willis had sold them heroin. A field test of the heroin confirmed the presence of fentanyl, according to the criminal complaint.

Police monitored a second drug sale in March. On his way to meet with the informant, Willis stopped and met with someone else for a “hand-to-hand transaction” that appeared to be a drug deal, officials said.

When Willis met with the informant for the second time, he sold them heroin in the front seat of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, officials said. The heroin sold to the informant tested positive for fentanyl, authorities said.

Watching Willis

Police said they kept an eye on Willis in early March. One day, he left the Savy Sliders on Livernois Avenue after loading boxes into the Jeep Gladiator. The Savy Sliders is owned by Willis’ wife, according to the complaint.

Willis began unloading the boxes at the gas station, police said.

In late March, police watched Willis leave his home in Clinton Township and drive to a building in the 20200 block of Littlefield Street in Detroit. This building was later referred to in the criminal complaint as a “stash house.”

When Willis left, he parked along the curb at Washburn Street and St. Martins Avenue in Detroit, officials said.

Willis stayed in the driver’s seat of the Grand Cherokee until an SUV pulled up behind him, the criminal complaint says. The driver of the SUV got out, entered the front passenger’s side of the Grand Cherokee, and remained inside for a few seconds.

The driver then returned to the SUV, and both vehicles left. Officials said this interaction was “consistent with a narcotics transaction.”

Arrest, 3 searches

Willis was taken into custody March 28 when police searched his home in Clinton Township.

During the search, officials said they found $133,242 in suspected drug money, 10 watches, a gold chain with a platinum pendant, and a handgun.

On the same day, police said they searched the “stash house” and found more than 2.6 kilograms of cocaine, more than 41 kilograms of fentanyl, a handgun, a large pill press, a small pill press, a drug press, drug packaging materials, drug scales, and $18,000 in suspected drug money.

Another man was taken into custody at the stash house, officials said.

Among the money found at the stash house was the $400 in cash that police had given the informant to buy drugs under their supervision, the criminal complaint says.

During a search of the gas station, police said they found $3,053 in suspected drug money and a handgun.

The criminal complaint concludes there’s probable cause that Willis distributed drugs and also possessed drugs with the intent to distribute them.

About the Author

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.

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