'09 big year for SIS unit

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The past year was a fruitful one for the Gwinnett County Police Department's Special Investigations Section, which made 909 arrests and seized more than $46 million in 2009.

Gwinnett police released statistics recently on the section, which consists of Narcotics, Vice and Intelligence investigators that enforce county ordinances and state law regarding criminal violations of drug, vice and alcohol activity.

Seizures included:

* 8,660 pounds of marijuana valued at $39,375,633;

* 137 pounds of powder cocaine valued at $6,209,259;

* Five ounces of crack cocaine valued at $14,138;

* 18 pounds of methamphetamine valued at $830,688;

* 5,174 illegal prescription pills valued at $95,500 and

* $481,838 in cash.

In a press release, department spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli said the narcotics unit was also instrumental in assisting state and federal agencies in their investigations within the county that led to additional seizures of illegal drugs worth millions of dollars.

The vice unit conducted 1,518 business checks to ensure they were in compliance with state law and local ordinances and 340 under-age alcohol inspections.

Arrests included:

* 84 for prostitution;

* 31 for pimping;

* 44 for massage without a permit;

* 73 for keeping a house of prostitution.

Formed in 2008, the Gwinnett County Highway Interdiction Team (HIT) continues to make an impact on drugs being transported in and through the county, the release said.

The team aims to curb violent crime and gang activity in the county and across metro Atlanta and has focused its efforts on combating criminal activity on the highways.

In 2009 the seven-officer unit accomplished the following:

* 5,030 traffic stops;

* 3,200 citations issued;

* 3,694 calls for service;

* 12 stolen vehicles recovered;

* 204 felony arrests;

* 234 misdemeanor arrests;

* 8 handguns seized and

* 116 wanted people located.

The unit is responsible for $620,410 in drug seizures, authorities said.

Said Police Chief Charles Walters, "The effectiveness of the unit shows that this department is committed in finding new and innovated ways of reducing crime and intercepting the flow of illegal narcotics in Gwinnett County."