At a press conference Wednesday, Attorney General Curtis Hill discussed his ongoing determination to strengthen drug interdiction efforts across Indiana, including a collaboration with the Indiana Drug Enforcement Association (IDEA) to provide funding to regional interdiction teams.
“We need to fight the drug crisis on many fronts, including prevention and treatment,” Attorney General Hill said. “Enforcement, however, remains a key prong in our overall strategy. By increasing interdiction, we are both reducing the amount of illicit drugs flowing into our communities and simultaneously sending a strong message to those who choose the Crossroads of America to carry out criminal activity: You will pay a heavy price for trafficking drugs in Indiana. Officers and deputies are out in force looking for you every day.”
Through a $1.25 million grant to IDEA, the Office of Indiana Attorney General is supporting the establishment of highway interdiction teams (HITs) statewide. These teams, comprised of officers and drug-sniffing dogs, are cracking down on criminals who use Indiana thoroughfares to carry out their nefarious deeds.
“It’s critical that we have a strategic, statewide interdiction plan in place,” said IDEA Training/Operations Director Gary Ashenfelter. “The goal is to place teams on major interstates and along other corridors where we know drugs are commonly transported.”
The press conference was held at the Lafayette Police Training Facility.
“We know that the drug trade is a leading factor in violent crime,” said Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly. “If we can stem the flow of drugs into our community, we can cut down on many types of crime.”
His West Lafayette counterpart agreed.
“In just the last few months our officers have seized drugs, money and stolen guns,” said West Lafayette Police Chief Jason Dombkowski. “We know that our efforts are making a difference on a daily basis.”
In the month of April, HITs conducted 273 drug-related investigations. These yielded 16 arrests; 12 pounds of marijuana; a pound of methamphetamine; and pills and cocaine with a street value of more than $65,000. Additionally, a handgun and $16,000 in cash were confiscated.
“Here in Tippecanoe County, I can assure you that those arrested will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington. “Drug trafficking has no place anywhere in Indiana, and by working together, we intend to put behind bars the people committing this particular crime.”
Through the grants, a total of eight police cars and five police K-9s have thus far been purchased for agencies to use. Also purchased were tracking software, two-way radios and emergency police equipment such as lights and sirens.
Eight interdiction teams have thus far been beneficiaries of the grants:
- Lake County Sheriff’s Office
- Porter County Sheriff’s Office
- Lafayette Police Department and West Lafayette Police Department
- Evansville Police Department and Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office
- Dearborn County Sheriff’s Office and Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit (Prosecutor’s Office)
- Kokomo Police Department
- Elkhart County Intelligence and Covert Enforcement (ICE) Unit (Prosecutor’s Office)
- Allen County Sheriff’s Office and Ft. Wayne Police Department