EAST CHICAGO | A new local policing initiative is being credited after police confiscated 11 pounds of marijuana, two loaded handguns and $12,000 following a traffic stop in area of Guthrie and Deodar streets Thursday evening.
Officer Hector Rosario, a member of the East Chicago Police Department’s STOP Team, stopped Timothy Pearson, 34, and Kevin Rhodes, 40, at about 5:50 p.m. Rosario saw Pearson inside the car and knew a warrant was out for his arrest.
Rhodes, who also had warrants, was taken into custody with Pearson. Police reported confiscating a bag of marijuana from inside the vehicle.
Police Chief Mark Becker said Pearson’s warrant was a result of a traffic stop earlier in the week with his 16-year-old daughter in the car, when police found a quantity of marijuana inside. Pearson was later released, and Lake County subsequently issued an arrest warrant for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Later Thursday night, East Chicago police executed a search warrant at 4016 Grand St., where they believed Rhodes lived. There, police found the drugs, guns and cash along with several suspected stolen television sets, Becker said.
A woman at the home, 34-year-old Adrian Paynes, was taken into custody.
“For what appears to be a street level drug operation, this is a significant amount of marijuana and cash,” said Becker, adding that the legality of the guns is being checked.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has joined the investigation and is determining whether to file superseding federal charges against Pearson and Rhodes.
Becker said the department has received numerous calls from residents about drug dealing activity in the city’s Indiana Harbor neighborhood, and he put the STOP Team on the case.
“People were fed up and wanted it stopped,” he said.
The STOP Team was created in April as a patrol-based initiative in which officers handle any and all public safety issues that may arise, drug activity notwithstanding. The officers are also charged with community outreach responsibilities to build public trust.
Through July, over the course of three and a half months, the STOP Team executed nearly 800 traffic stops and made 137 arrests, according to Becker.
“The activities of this team, coupled with the diligence of all of our officers and support personal, are very much responsible for our 18 percent reduction in violent crime during the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012,” he said.