New police unit targets gangs, drugs

LAWRENCEVILLE - To the brainiacs behind the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, the word "interdiction" refers to "a steady bombardment of enemy positions and communication lines."

To the Gwinnett County Police Department, it means thwarting murderous thugs and the illegal enterprises they support.

Gwinnett police announced Tuesday a new "interdiction unit" has been activated in the county as a "proactive effort to curb violent crime and gang activity."

The unit includes eight police veterans. Each has loads of training in facets of law enforcement vital to combating drug cartels and the presence of gangs:

Things like motor vehicle enforcement, K-9 operation, auto theft cases and drug crackdowns.

The unit's primary focus will be Gwinnett's network of highways, and it has already begun operations in the county's drug-trade hotbeds, said Cpl. Illana Spellman, Gwinnett police spokeswoman.

"There are lot of crimes that have occurred in Gwinnett County as a result of the illegal drug trade," Spellman said. "This is another attempt to combat criminal activity."

Spellman said the unit will work fluid hours, depending on where they're most needed. Managers will continually evaluate the unit's effectiveness, she said.

Spellman said statistics that gauge the unit's efficiency will be available later.

Gwinnett police Chief Charles Walters said the unit is evidence the department is using "every possible method" to ebb the tide of illegal drugs.

"We recognize that much of our crime is directly or indirectly related to the drug trade," Walters said. "We will continue to look for innovative ways to protect the citizens of Gwinnett County."