The owner of a Michigan-based trucking company is free on bail after DEA agents arrested him on gun and drug charges after raiding his home and businesses last week.
In the criminal complaint, Zijad Balic, 35, of Macomb Township, was released on $100,000 unsecured bail on Friday, two days after being charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Feds also searched two locations registered to Balic and his trucking company, Northwest Transportation Inc. Balic obtained his common carrier authority in July 2012 and has 31 power units and 30 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration SAFER data.
In the arrest affidavit, DEA agents claimed they found 1-inch by 1-inch plastic baggies, which can be used to repackage drugs for distribution, and a bottle of acetone, which can be used to “repackage cocaine into bricks” at a storefront registered to Balic and Northwest Transport in Macomb. The report claims agents also found a LWRC model SMG-45, a .45 caliber pistol, in the utility room at the site.
Feds also raided Northwest Transportation’s 27-acre truck yard in Warren, Michigan. The arrest affidavit states DEA agents found approximately half a kilogram of a white powdery substance that appeared to be cocaine in a locked refrigerator in a shed on the trucking company’s property. The key was found in a coffee maker inside the work shed.
“The suspected cocaine was packaged into approximately five plastic baggies, consistent with repackaging drugs for distribution,” the affidavit states.
The report states that a Sig Sauer P-320 pistol registered to Balic, body armor, six bags containing around 100 pills each of suspected amphetamines, and several pounds of marijuana were found in the shed belonging to Northwest Transportation.
Agents also found a scale and an undisclosed amount of cash at the site.
The affidavit states that a DEA drug detection dog “alerted” to drug odor emanating from a truck tractor and a Dodge Challenger, both registered to Balic, that were parked near the office shed. Agents found a Springfield XPS 9mm pistol after searching the Challenger.
Prior to Balic’s release, his attorney, James C. Thomas asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford whether Balic could continue running his trucking operation.
“He has 30 contract employees that truck on a regular basis from there. We don’t believe that the business was involved in any of the direct allegations that are here. However, just to be clear, I want to make sure that he has the ability to go back to his work,” Thomas stated at the in-person bail proceedings.
Judge Stafford said Balic could continue operating his trucking company, which hauls general freight, metal, paper products and automotive parts, but restricted his travel to the Eastern District of Michigan unless he received previous consent from the court’s pretrial services office.
Balic’s preliminary examination hearing is set for May 6 in Detroit.
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Staff writer Grace Sharkey contributed to this report
Source: freightwaves - DEA arrests Michigan trucking owner on drug, gun charges
Editor: Clarissa Hawes