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Wiretaps Were Key To Unlocking Details of Virgin Islands to Detroit Heroin-Cocaine Ring


PITTSBURGH — Two accused Michigan suppliers for a heroin and cocaine ring bringing narcotics from the Virgin Islands to Pittsburgh through Detroit were advised of their rights Thursday at the Joseph F. Weis U.S. Courthouse and returned to jail without bond pending trial.

Details of the case remain sparse, but Vanier Murraine, 33, of Ferndale, Mich., and Victor Burnett, 36, of Oak Park, Mich., were two of the primary targets of a drug investigation spearheaded by an FBI task force that resulted in the indictments of 14 people last month.

Investigators have named 13 of the 14 people accused of being involved in the drug ring — the only person who has not been identified so far is someone from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The local connection, according to prosecutors, was Clinton Robinson, 31, of Sheraden, who is accused of receiving his heroin supplies from Murraine.

Murraine in turn got his supply from Burnett, investigators say.

Lawyers for Murraine and Burnett declined comment after today’s hearing and the U.S. attorney’s office will not comment on pending cases.

The investigation, which U.S. Attorney David Hickton said started with Clinton Robinson’s operation on the North Side of Pittsburgh in 2015, was based largely on wiretaps of 11 cell phones used by ring members.

Prosecutors said the conspirators moved cocaine from the Virgin Islands to Detroit and then shipped heroin from Detroit to Pittsburgh, where Robinson distributed it to his dealers and customers.

Robinson was ordered detained Monday pending trial.

Other dealers allegedly supplied by Murraine and Burnett were active in Georgia and Ohio.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.


  1. Michelle
    September 20, 2016 at 12:28 AM — Reply

    Clearly this is the wrong Vanier Murraine as his date of birth is 1961. Research before publishing.

  2. lisa
    November 1, 2016 at 9:29 AM — Reply

    I’m not happy to read the news about my family Vanier Murraine. This is a sad situation for all of us.

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