Grand Rapids traffic stop leads to large cocaine bust; part of upward trend

Cocaine attacks have increased across Michigan in recent years. In one Grand Rapids case, a 34-year-old man was charged with life in prison.

GRAND RAPIDS, me. – A traffic obstruction resulted in the discovery of several pounds of cocaine and now has a Wyoming man charged with crimes that could result in jail for the rest of his life.

Lorenzo Perez-Bernal has a hearing in Grand Rapids District Court later this month. He is charged with possession with intent to deliver more than 1,000 grams of cocaine and more than 1,000 grams of cocaine.

The two charges are each punished with imprisonment ranging from years to life in prison.

“There has been an increase in cocaine charges over the past year,” said Kent County Attorney Chris Becker. “As in this case, we don’t see this guy very often.”

At one point, state charges of 650 grams or more of cocaine required life imprisonment. That is no longer the case.

Perez-Bernal was arrested on April 17th after a traffic obstruction on 28th Street and Madison Avenue SE.

It was in a jeep pass that contained a hidden compartment where the cocaine was found. The next day, an arrest warrant for Perez-Bernal was approved. He remains in Kent County Jail.

In recent years, cocaine attacks have increased in western Michigan.

Data from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program shows that cocaine seizures in Michigan increased 582% between 2015 and 2019. More than 609 pounds of cocaine (277 kg) were seized in Michigan in 2019.

Cocaine and crack cocaine seizures in Kent County were over 39 pounds in 2019, compared to just over 26 pounds the previous year, according to HIDTA data.

“It is clear that there is more human trafficking,” said Becker.

Federal agencies get involved when cocaine is shipped to Michigan through the U.S. Postal Service.

That was the case earlier this year when more than two pounds of cocaine was found in a Priority Mail package addressed to a Grand Rapids home.

A man who took the package pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge; He faces at least five years and up to 40 years in prison. The sentencing is scheduled for the end of June.

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