The city of Gary has seen an uptick in violent crime, much of it because of a turf war between local gang members and others coming in from Chicago. Friday night, ABC7 Eyewitness News saw firsthand some of the massive quantities of drugs those gangs are trafficking in this area.
It's a city-wide sweep meant to send a message.
"We're going to do what we have to, you know, catch them off guard any time we can. They'll never know when we're coming," said Lake County Sheriff John Buncich.
The Lake County, Indiana, sheriff's department is among a dozen agencies patrolling Gary in search of drugs, illegal guns and people with outstanding warrants.
Our first traffic stop is the driver of a vehicle who appears to flash a gang sign.
"Temporary plate. Those are easily doctored," Buncich said.
Records show the man has an outstanding warrant for driving without a license and he's taken into custody.
"He's been arrested for this before," said Deputy Dan Murchek. "He's had warrants issued. He's failed to show up for court. He's got a small child in the car, in the car seat that wasn't put in properly on top of that."
Last year Gary saw its murder rate skyrocket, the violence fueled in part by an influx of gang members from Chicago hoping to expand the drug trade.
Around 6:00 p.m. a vehicle is stopped along i-80/94.
"This is the main corridor for drug trafficking," Buncich said.
A search of the trunk turns up this cardboard box and after closer inspection several packages of drugs are discovered.
A field test reveals it's cocaine, 25 pounds worth, the street value around half a million dollars.
"Probably they're heading south," said Buncich. "They could be going to Indianapolis or Detroit."
The driver from Chicago is taken into custody. He and others processed in a makeshift command center in Gary.
The traffic stops continue yielding more outstanding warrants and suspected drug buyers.
It's been a very productive night.
"The narcotics we're seizing, the firearms, these things you don't want on the street," Buncich said.
This massive show of force continues until midnight. So far, at least 20 people have been arrested, many of the charges drug-related. Two fugitives have also been captured, a man wanted in Oklahoma and another wanted in Washington State.