KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Authorities in East Tennessee are continuing to thwart drug trafficking they say is coming from Detroit, Mich. after a multiagency investigation has resulted in the arrest of five suspects and seizure of illicit drugs including fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced the arrests and drug seizures early Friday as part of the collaborative effort that began in December known as the 313 Initiative, which targets drug trafficking to East Tennessee from Detroit.

The TBI says the arrests were made Thursday afternoon at a residence in Knoxville, when TBI special agents along with the Knoxville Police Department Organized Crime Unit, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, and the 5th Judicial District Drug Task Force, obtained a search warrant for a residence along Willoughby Road.

Investigators with a KPD special operations squad and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms executed the search warrant at the residence.

They seized more than two pounds of fentanyl, several ounces of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, cash, and a firearm.

The TBI says the following individuals, all from Detroit, were arrested as part of the investigation and are facing felony charges:

  • Ricardo Diandre Briggs, 38
  • Sylvester Neal III, 44
  • Paul Sanchez Briggs, 35
  • Eric Nathaniel Bradford, 54
  • Kenneth Jamal Briggs, 36

All of the suspects are being held in the Knox County Jail.

“These arrests are part of an initiative that began in December,” a TBI news release stated. “The 313 Initiative is a concerted and organized effort by numerous state and local law enforcement agencies to identify, target, and dismantle individuals and groups from the Detroit area who are bringing deadly drug combinations into Knox County and surrounding areas.”

Back in December, Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen said the 313 Initiative will be a collaborative effort between prosecutors and law enforcement as they build cases to disrupt the illegal drug pipeline from Detroit. Allen also said that most crime in the greater Knox community is related to drugs; she added that drug trafficking certainly goes hand-in-hand with gang activity in Knox County.