Drug court grad among 4 arrested

March 25, 2017 GMT

Perhaps the most telling things found in the dumpster trash recovered from a months-long drug investigation were the two “celebrate recovery/drug addiction” coins.

Alexander C. “Alex” McGrew, the 21-year-old facing multiple counts of drug dealing arrested Wednesday in a raid by the Vice and Narcotics unit of the Fort Wayne police, was lucky enough to be in drug court, according to court documents.

Drug court is a selective program designed to help drug addicts turn their lives around.

The charges that put ­McGrew there date to July 2015 and include dealing large amounts of marijuana, possession of a narcotic drug, maintaining a common nuisance, resisting law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of possession of paraphernalia.

Now there are new charges after an investigation that began in January led police to comb through his trash bin at 4120 Covington Road where he lived, make undercover purchases of marijuana and Ecstasy mostly in his 2016 white Chevrolet Impala and investigate Eclipse Tanning Salon on the north side where numerous suspicious packages mailed from California and Seattle were received.

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McGrew had purchased the business in August, court documents said. That same month, an employee opened one of these suspicious packages in front of a Fort Wayne detective, and, after speculating that it was probably lotions and other items typically needed at such a business, found it contained 1,105 grams of marijuana, which she said she knew nothing about.

In March, two 50-pound packages were delivered to another address of a vacant house with no power and a brand-new steel-cage door. The packages came from a California business called Bombshell Commodities. The company specializes in selling the legal herb Damiana, a key component in the manufacture of synthetic marijuana known as Spice.

McGrew conducted a lot of his business out of his Impala and the tanning salon at 2612 E. State Blvd., which he then sold to Brenda Schau, 21, also arrested and where Schau’s boyfriend, Benjamin Crance, 26, another facing charges of drug dealing, was made manager, court documents said.

Police found that there had been numerous tips that McGrew and Crance transported and sold large shipments of heroin and marijuana. In June 2015 police went to Colony Bay apartments to search for McGrew. He was found and fled in a vehicle registered to Crance. During the pursuit, McGrew threw out two backpacks that contained 468 grams of marijuana, a scale and cash, police said.

About two months later, a tip said that Crance and another man transported kilos of heroin from Michigan to Fort Wayne every week and also drove to Arizona, loaded several hundred pounds of marijuana in a van, flew back to Fort Wayne and paid a driver to deliver it, court documents said.

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Wednesday, the investigation resulted in a raid at the phantom residence at 2526 S. Harrison St., to 7151 Stellhorn Road, the residence for Schau and Crance, to ­McGrew’s apartment on Covington Road and the tanning salon.

Police had also tracked McGrew and his live-in girlfriend, Dunia Anabtawi, 19, also arrested Wednesday, to Southwest Self Storage at 411 S. Thomas Road.

The morning of the raid, McGrew and Anabtawi left in separate cars at 9 a.m. McGrew was pulled over in a traffic stop and physically resisted officers. Officers found 447 grams of marijuana packaged for distribution in the car, police said.

Anabtawi was stopped for an expired license plate. Several plastic bags containing marijuana residue were found in her car, police said.

Around 9:40 a.m. officers went to the tanning salon, since renamed the Vitamin D Tanning LLC, and found Crance outside in a black GMC Yukon Denali that had $5,000 on the center console, 5.2 grams of marijuana, a separate roll of $141 and more than $15,000 stashed behind the car’s media display screen.

Earlier, Schau was at the tanning salon, but around 12:30 p.m. officers saw Schau leave their joint residence and get into a 2011 red Chevrolet Traverse.

During a traffic stop, officers smelled raw marijuana coming from the vehicle as they did with Crance’s car. There were numerous sheets of brown waxy substance that tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, seven bags of marijuana weighing 84 grams, a pipe containing burnt residue, two digital scales, $40,000 bundled into thousand-dollar increments and a Springfield Arms XD9 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, police said.

At the storage unit police found 11.9 grams of marijuana, about $4,300, a vacuum sealer with bags, drug receipts and a drug ledger totaling $93,850. They also found an automatic Sig Sauer rifle and a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun.

As of Friday, McGrew was in the Allen County Jail with a bond of $140,000. Crance and Anabtawi were released earlier on their own recognizance, and Schau had been released after satisfying a $750 bond.

They are all expected to appear in court at 9 a.m. Tuesday. There are numerous drug-related charges including money laundering.

jduffy@jg.net