52 illegally possessed firearms seized in 2019

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The La Porte County Drug Task Force announces the seizure of 52 illegally possessed handguns in 2019. These efforts were joint operations involving the task force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The drug task force is apprised of investigators from the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, the La Porte Police Department, and the Michigan City Police Department.

In late 2018, La Porte County, especially the Michigan City area, experienced an outbreak of gun violence, including several homicides. Many of the shootings were a direct result of Illegal gun possession. Administrators from the involved departments and agencies met and agreed that Illegal gun possession in La Porte County was extremely high on the priority list. Lt. Tim Richardson, commander of the drug task force, said that after conferring with the area department heads, a gun eradication effort began immediately on Dec. 12, 2018.

Over the consecutive 52-week period beginning Dec. 12, 2018, and through 2019, task force detectives and agents pursued numerous illegal weapon possession cases. These efforts were in conjunction with the normal task force duties, as investigators continued to focus on illegal drugs and the dangerous opiate crisis.

The firearms eradication initiative led to an average of one illegal firearm seized per week in 2019. Richardson said, “Fifty-two illegally possessed firearms seized in 52 weeks is an impressive accomplishment for 2019.” Richardson notes that these gun seizures are above and beyond any other firearms seized by patrol officers from the participating agencies.
Richardson explained that some of these firearms were seized during the execution of search warrants. Others were seized during planned and focused street level initiatives in which the firearms were seized from the person, or vehicle, of convicted felons, who are prohibited from possessing firearms. The remainder were recovered from individuals who possessed firearms without a valid Indiana gun permit.

Richardson lauded the efforts of the investigators and agents involved in the year-long initiative. However, he notes that there is still much more work to be done in 2020. Many of the youth in our communities seem to have developed a fascination for possessing firearms. He asks the community to speak with their children and encourage an open dialogue regarding these dangerous firearms.

Sheriff John Boyd, Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell, and La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin are encouraged by the number of illegally possessed firearms removed from our streets in 2019. The sheriff and chiefs noted that “eradicating these illegally possessed firearms from the streets of La Porte County is a significant priority for area law enforcement and that this is just the start of future initiatives to combat gun violence. It takes the police partnering with our communities to achieve the successful outcomes that we experienced in 2019. Our citizens are many times the eyes and ears of law enforcement.”

Both the La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office and The U.S. Attorney’s office in South Bend assisted in many of these cases.

The La Porte County Drug Task Force asks anyone with information about criminal activity, including illegal gun possession and gun violence, to contact them at 219-873-1488 or via social media. Richardson notes that tips about firearms, or planned gun violence, may be left anonymously on the task force Tip Hotline. Anonymous tips may also be made to the WeTip Hotline at 800-78 Crime or 800-47 Drugs. Crimes in progress should be immediately reported to 911.

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