Officer Gene Hopkins and "Bennie"
Two arrested after cops confiscate 400
pounds of marijuana
BY KEN KOSKY Times Staff
Posted on Friday, May 31,
Police confiscated a half-million dollars worth of marijuana Thursday from
locations in Portage and Valparaiso in what authorities describe as the biggest
drug bust ever in Porter County. "It's certainly the biggest one I can remember," said Porter County
Prosecutor James Douglas. One of the undercover officers who helped seize the estimated 400 pounds of
high-quality Mexican marijuana and the $4,000 in cash said it is rewarding to
turn a drug tip into a big drug seizure. "This is nice to have a lot of hard work pay off," he said.
Police on Thursday arrested Richard Komendat, 48, of 464 N. County Road 475
West, Valparaiso, on a felony charge of dealing marijuana. He faces up to eight
years if convicted. A 17-year-old girl was arrested for marijuana possession,
"The (Narcotics) Unit is continuing to investigate this matter and additional
arrests will be made," Douglas said. The seizure of marijuana began Thursday morning when undercover agents, who
had been investigating drug dealing in the county, went to a suspect's Portage
home and served a search warrant. Douglas said 12 pounds of marijuana were found and the suspect, who was not
immediately arrested but who faces charges, provided information about Komendat.
Police went to his home and reported finding 30 pounds of marijuana. A van belonging to another person also was found at Komendat's home, and
Porter County police Officer Gene Hopkins' canine Benny detected marijuana
inside. A search of the van turned up more than 350 pounds of marijuana, said
police, who are continuing their investigation into the van's owner. One of the undercover officers said the drug bust will raise prices by
putting a dent in the local supply. But the officer said the drug problem will
remain and officers will have to continue battling it. The Narcotics Unit, headed by Investigator Robert Taylor of the prosecutor's
office, is staffed by Valparaiso and Portage police officers, although Porter
County police are expected to replace a member who left recently. The Narcotics
Unit was assisted Thursday by the Drug Enforcement Agency, Porter County police
and Portage police Officers William Smith and Troy Williams.
Portage police Officers William Smith, Troy
Porter County police Officer Gene Hopkins load 400
of marijuana Thursday outside the Valparaiso Police
after raids in Porter County.
(Gregg Gearhart / The