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27 arrested in drug bust

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:20 PM

Loretta Lemke said she was amazed to see about a dozen police officers, some with guns drawn, surround her neighbor’s home Wednesday morning.

“I walked into the kitchen and here’s a bunch of police walking down the sidewalk,” said the 85-year-old Grand Haven woman.

Local police were cooperating with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the Kent Area Narcotics Team to execute one of several search warrants as part of a multi-county investigation Wednesday.

The warrants were executed at 28 locations as part of a joint narcotics investigation called Operation High Mileage. Officials said it involved the cultivation and sale of marijuana in several West Michigan counties.

Lemke’s Clinton Street neighbor, Douglas Lee Harjer, 63, was one of 27 people arrested in the sweep. Harjer has since been released from custody.

Harjer's wife, Chris Harjer, confirmed that there was a search at their home on Wednesday.

"They didn’t find anything," she said.

Chris Harjer said police “arrested a bunch of people who were growing medical marijuana.”

Her husband is licensed to grow medical marijuana, but he doesn’t do it at their Clinton Street home, she said.

“He was all legal,” she said.

Click the RELATED FILE below this story to download the joint task force's statement on the drug bust.

Police seized 500 marijuana plants and other assets identified as drug proceeds in the multi-county bust, officials said. A large number of the searches were conducted in Muskegon County.

A press release from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department said everyone arrested was arraigned Wednesday, but information on court dates was not available at the time.

Across the street from the Harjer home at Central High School, Principal Paul Kunde said it was "an exciting day." Grand Haven public safety officials contacted him early Wednesday morning to warn him of the impending event.

“They wanted us to move our kids to the other side of the building," Kunde said. "We did that. They had an officer stationed in the building while everything was going down."

No one was allowed to leave the school building once police called at about 10:30 a.m. with a five-minute warning.

Lemke said no police vehicles were visible as the officers walked through her yard to the Harjer home.

“I opened the door to see what was happening and an officer motioned for me to shut it,” she said.

Lemke said some officers banged hard on the Harjers' door while others went around to the back.

“They came out (of the house) and opened the garage real carefully,” she said. “They all went through there.”

A half-hour later, a couple of police officers came back and looked through her neighbors' car, Lemke said.

“They took a Meijer bag out and put it in the house,” she said. “Then they went back in the garage with their flashlights and looked and looked.”

Lemke said she never saw anything suspicious going on next door.

“They’ve lived there for 27 years,” she said. “They’ve been good neighbors.”

Two houses down, Julie Stanton said she surprisingly didn't see the police search.

“I work at home, but I didn’t hear or see anything,” she said.

Stanton said she would be surprised if anyone in their neighborhood was doing anything with drugs.

“But people can surprise you,” she said. “It’s bizarre.”

The people arrested on Wednesday:

Shawn Andrew Taylor

Molly Anne Taylor

Robert James Housley

Brandon Edward Goerbig

Braden Daniel Kasper

Kevin Lee Downey

Benjamin Allen Fialek

Nicholas Patrick Perri

Merribeth Devries

Dalton James Miller

Erin Nicole Forestier

William Ernest May

Calvin Joseph Brown

David James Searer

Curtis Daniel Fairchild

James Lee Moore

Douglas Lee Harjer

Lesley Ann Wimmer

Cody Andrew Frye

Kimberly Monique Adema

Robert Dorr White

Debora Kay Housley

Venessa Kay Housley

James Stanley Housley

Lori Lynne Larabel

Casie Lynne Hanis

Nathan Edward Hanis

CLICK HERE to see a WZZM-TV photo gallery of those arrested in the sweep.


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