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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
March 6, 2003

Narcotics Investigation Results In Law Enforcement Officers Being Ambushed In Saginaw Neighborhood

Saginaw, MI- On February 25, 2003, Special Agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Nebraska State Police and Michigan State Police BAYANET narcotics unit were investigating a major cocaine trafficking organization with a California to Saginaw, Michigan connection. As part of this investigation, the Nebraska State Police arrested two individuals on February 24, 2003 at the Greyhound bus station in Omaha, Nebraska for possession with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine. One of the arrested couriers agreed to cooperate and told investigators that the cocaine was to be delivered to people in Saginaw, Michigan and that the drugs were being transported from California.

Two Nebraska State Troopers and a Special Agent from the DEA office in Omaha Nebraska transported the cooperating courier to Saginaw. In the morning hours of February 25, 2003, law enforcement officers conducted surveillance at the Saginaw Greyhound bus station. Local Saginaw resident James Ray Sylvester Jr. arrived at the bus station and took possession of what he believed were the five kilograms of cocaine. Sylvester was arrested and taken to the Saginaw DEA office pending his appearance in U.S. District Court on federal narcotics charges.

As part of the ongoing investigation, Agents received consent to search a home at 2207 Jerome Street in Saginaw to locate evidence identifying other members of the drug organization and the cocaine source of supply in California. At approximately 10:30 am on February 25, 2003, the DEA Agent from Omaha, a Saginaw Township Officer and a Nebraska State Trooper arrived at 2207 Jerome Street in Saginaw. As Agents entered the house with the resident, unbeknownst to them, three armed individuals were laying in wait inside the residence to steal the cocaine. As the officers announced themselves, a suspect apparently appeared and opened fire on the officers. During the ensuing gun battle, the DEA Agent was struck multiple times and the Saginaw Township Officer was struck in the stomach. Officers were able to return fire and two of the suspects were killed.

They were identified as Charles Ray Aldridge, age 31, and Erin Demond Murrell, age 25, both of Saginaw, Michigan. Both were previous convicted felons and Murrell was wearing an electronic tether at the time of the shooting, because of a previous drug conviction. Officers identified the third suspect, who escaped the home during the shooting as Anthony Watson, age 32, of Saginaw. A ten-count arrest warrant was issued against Watson charging him with multiple weapons and drug offenses. The Saginaw Police Department arrested Watson on March 9, 2003.

Both the DEA Agent and Saginaw Township officer were transported to local hospitals where they underwent surgery and are expected to make complete recoveries.

Since the shooting, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Saginaw Police Department, Michigan State Police, Saginaw Township Police, BAYANET, Saginaw County Prosecutors Office and the United States Attorneys Office have utilized all available resources to conduct a comprehensive and exhaustive investigation. The investigation centers not only on those individuals responsible for shooting the officers, but also the narcotics organization responsible for shipping and distributing this large quantity of cocaine to the Saginaw area.

Special Agent in Charge Michael Braun said, "We [DEA] would like to thank all of the law enforcement agencies and officers throughout Michigan and Nebraska who assisted us during this difficult time and offered their support to all of the personnel and families involved in this incident. It is our honor to work side by side with all of these law enforcement professionals who distinguish their agencies so admirably."

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