Eighty-seven officers from multiple local, state, and federal agencies worked together Monday to seize illegal synthetic drugs that were being sold in local stores.
A dozen businesses in Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties were searched.
Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill spoke at a press conference Tuesday morning and said that Monday's raids were the start of a larger crackdown on the drug.
"Contrary to popular belief, especially amongst high school and middle school aged children, these substances are not legal to possess or consume," Hill explained. "Some people may be under the false impression that because synthetic drugs have been available for sale from behind the counter of many businesses in our community they are safe to use. However, that could not be further from the truth. These drugs are dangerous, addictive, and illegal."
Starting about a year ago, police officers from Elkhart and South Bend warned at least 12 convenience stores that it was illegal to sell synthetic drugs. They're commonly known as designer drugs and include K-2, bath salts, or spice.
But these businesses repeatedly violated the law.
On Monday night, officers picked up more than 1,4000 packets of the drugs.
It was part of a sweep that involved police departments from all levels..
Twenty people were arrested, including two of the "so-called" primary targets that own some of the businesses and could be facing racketeering charges.
Gurcharn “John” Singh, 43, and Jaswinder “Jasmine” Kaur, 37, both of Granger, own four Elkhart stores that were raided.
During the raid, authorities uncovered additional evidence of corrupt business influence (racketeering), a Class C felony; dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class C felony; and, money laundering, a Class D felony.
Singh and Kaur were both arrested.
Police seized 10 bank accounts, at least two vehicles, more than $57,000, several weapons, and numerous stores from Singh and Kaur.
Those stores include:
1. The Phillips 66 Gas Station and Burger Dairy Store at 1403 & 1409 Franklin Street, in Elkhart;
2. The Marathon Gas Station and convenience store at 1589 West Franklin Street, in Elkhart;
3. The Sunnyside Food Mart/Benham Food Mart at 1502 South Benham, in Elkhart; and
4. The Marathon Gas Station and convenience store at 1850 East Bristol Street, in Elkhart.
These seized gas stations/convenience stores weren't open for business Tuesday. They'll remain under the seal of the State of Indiana pending further Order of the Court.
Police in St. Joseph County raided six businesses and one private home and arrested nine people, said St. Joseph County Prosecutor Mike Dvorak.
The St. Joseph County raids resulted in the seizure of $42,000 and marijuana and prescription drugs worth more than $1,000, Dvorak said.