CROWN POINT | Lake County Sheriff John Buncich on Friday showcased evidence seized in two drug raids in Gary in an effort to curb gang violence in the city.
"This is what's going on in the neighborhoods," Buncich said pointing to tables full of drugs and guns seized from homes in Gary's Glen Park neighborhood.
At 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, Lake County Sheriff's Department tactical officers served a warrant at a home in the 1500 block of Pierce Street in Gary. Erik V. Gill Sr., 48, of the same address, was arrested on two counts of dealing a controlled substance and maintaining a common nuisance.
Also on Wednesday, the officers raided a home in the 4000 block of Jackson Street where they seized two AK-47 assault rifles, a double-barreled sawed off shotgun, 9 pounds of marijuana, 39.4 grams of crack cocaine and 66 grams of powder cocaine.
No one was home at the Jackson Street address at the time of the raid and no arrests were made.
Narcotics officers, not named to protect their identities, joined Buncich on Friday and said the street value of cocaine is around $100 per gram. Some of the marijuana seized was hydroponic, which is grown in a special environment and produces a higher quality drug, police said.
The hydroponic marijuana sells for $350 an ounce. Other marijuana seized sells for between $80-$150 an ounce, officers said.
"I prefer to take bulk quantities before it gets on the streets rather than after it has been sold," one officer said.]
Buncich said the officers are averaging one to two search warrants per week.
"It's indicative of what's going on in these areas, especially the violence that's going on in Gary and the northern part of the county," Buncich said. "That's one of the reasons we're stepping up our efforts."
Buncich said the county added officers to the gang and narcotics units in response to the gang violence born of the drug trade in the northern part of the county.
Meetings between local, state and federal agencies are continuing in an effort to coordinate efforts, especially in Gary, which has seen a rash of gang-related homicides.
Buncich also showed a BB gun taken from a teen recently that looks identical to a 9 mm handgun.
The BB guns — which come in models resembling AK-47s, revolvers and other firearms — are legal and are sold online through an Indiana-based company which also sells at gun shows, he said.
"If it's pulled on an officer, how does an officer have to respond?" Buncich said, adding that the guns are a matter of officer safety.
"I cannot say enough about these officers on the street out there and the very, very dangerous scenarios they have to deal with daily," Buncich said.