The architect of a Detroit-based drug ring described by many former customers as the “McDonald’s for drugs” was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison last Friday.
Demarco Tempo ran the “Polo” drug trafficking operation on the east side of Detroit, which sold “heroin and crack cocaine all day, every day, to hundreds, if not thousands, of customers,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The phone numbers for Tempo’s operation were so well known in the area that his two main phone numbers received 416,934 contacts in one fifteen-month period—an average of more than 900 calls per day.
Tempo and his co-conspirators began selling fentanyl mixed with – or substituted for – heroin to unsuspecting customers, resulting in a “rash of near-fatal overdoses” and the death of a 19-year-old woman. He was caught with seven cell phones, including the two main lines used by customers, when he was picked up by the police.
He was the last of 13 individuals to be sentenced in connection to the “Polo” operation and received the harshest penalty of 30 years. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Matthew Schneider said the 13 defendants were sentenced to federal prison terms totaling more than 130 years combined.
“The drug dealers in this case had a complete disregard for life, and the heroin and fentanyl they sold killed a Michigan resident who was struggling with addiction,” he said in a statement. “The life-saving efforts of the local police and first responders prevented numerous other senseless deaths. Now, with the architect of this drug dealing scheme behind bars for the next 30 years, people suffering from addiction will have a better chance at recovery.”
Most of the defendants faced charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, crack cocaine, fentanyl, and powder cocaine, resulting in death or serious bodily injury; distribution of heroin and fentanyl resulting in death or serious bodily injury; and possession of heroin and crack cocaine with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school. Just three of the defendants were not charged with overdose counts because of their limited participation in the operation.
“The success of this investigation is a testament to collaboration between federal and local law enforcement partners in targeting and dismantling heroin distribution rings in Southeastern Michigan,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin. “Communities throughout the state need not worry about Mr. Tempo and his drug business for the next quarter century.”
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