GREENFIELD — The home looks just like all the others on Sheets Court.
Tucked inside the Copeland Farms subdivision in Greenfield, the house looks well-kept with a neatly trimmed lawn and bushes lining its perimeter. A play set — left there by the home’s former owners, neighbors said — peeks out over a privacy fence.
Those living there kept to themselves, and the house never drew much attention, neighbors said. But police say they had been keeping an eye on the property for months. Friday, the house became the center of a raid after a months-long investigation suggested a man inside might be dealing drugs.
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Prosecutors spent Monday finalizing the list of felony counts they plan to bring against 20-year-old Gurinder Khera, in whose home they found cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and a substance believed to be heroin, according to investigators.
Paraphernalia, including scales and packaging material, found in Khera’s bedroom suggests he’s been dealing drugs from the Greenfield home, which is within walking distance of the local junior high school, police said.
He was being held in the Hancock County Jail at press time Monday on preliminary charges of dealing cocaine, dealing methamphetamine, dealing marijuana, possession of each drug and maintaining a common nuisance, according to jail records. Khera was also carrying a handgun without a license, police said.
Several handguns and empty gun boxes led police to suspect Khera also was illegally selling firearms, investigators said.
FIRST FOR DETECTIVE
Khera’s arrest was the first major bust by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department’s new narcotics detective, who was hired in September to be an undercover investigator and handle drug cases across the county. The addition to the force came as part of a coordinated effort between the sheriff’s department and Greenfield Police Department to curb a growing use of illegal narcotics. Each department secured funding for an additional detective to spearhead drug investigations.The bust kept with that protocol, as detectives from both departments and the members of the local multi-agency Proactive Criminal Enforcement (PACE) team, worked together to compile the evidence against Khera, Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Rasche said.
As local leaders praised officers’ efforts, Rasche said the investigation serves as a prime example of law enforcement’s dedication to getting drug dealers out of Hancock County.
“It’s not about (the narcotics detective), it’s not about any of us,” he said. “It’s about doing our jobs well, getting drugs off the streets and keeping that promise we made to the community.”
The investigation into Khera’s activities began in July when a suspicious package en route to Khera’s home was confiscated by the U.S. Postal Service in Indianapolis, said Deputy Nick Ernstes, a member of the PACE Team, which targets drug-traffickers along Interstate 70.
Ernstes and his police dog, Mani, inspected the package and found it contained marijuana, Ernstes said. Over the next few months, he and the new narcotics detective monitored Khera and intercepted more packages headed to and from the West Coast, most recently one containing a handgun police believe was stolen from someone in Colorado, Ernstes said.
“That kind of sped things up,” Ernstes said.
Police searched the home Friday evening after Khera was pulled over for a traffic violation and police found a quarter-pound of marijuana and a handgun in his car, Ernstes said.
In the home, police found about one pound of marijuana and at least 10 grams each of cocaine and meth, Ernstes said. Other substances were recovered and were sent to a local lab for further identification, Rasche said.
Police believe Khera has been living at the home with some family members for at least a year. Right now, police say, they have no reason to believe any of those relatives were involved with the alleged drug activity; all the evidence recovered from the home was found in Khera’s bedroom.
As police cars filled the streets of the typically quiet subdivision Friday night, neighbors made their way to nearby sidewalks and watched as police officers made trips in and out of the house at Sheets Court and Kingen Drive.
“This was all going on right under everyone’s noses,” Rasche said.
Word of the raid spread quickly, in person and on social media, and left neighbors, like Shane and Melissa Mayberry, wondering what else could be happening in the area they’ve come to call home.Copeland Farms Homeowners Association president John Patton said the subdivision has had issues with petty vandalism here and there but nothing out of the ordinary for a neighborhood of its size. He posted a notice on the association’s Facebook page Friday night alerting residents to police activity.
It’s odd to hear an ambulance come through Copeland Farms, let alone see a crowd of detectives, said Shane Mayberry, adding he was thankful police intervened before his children and their young friends set out trick-or-treating Saturday.
The raid ignited conversations about safety among members of the homeowners association, and the idea of starting a neighborhood watch is gaining popularity, Patton said.
“We have a good neighborhood here, … and I have a feeling some good will come of this,” he said.
Patton, who also serves on the Greenfield City Council, was glad to hear local efforts to combat drug abuse in the area had been successful.
Those thoughts were echoed by Hancock County Council president Bill Bolander. When the council voted to transfer $100,000 from the county’s reserve funds to support the hire of a new narcotics officer, these sorts of investigations were what members had in mind, he said.
“I’m glad to see that money is going to good use,” Bolander said.
“This was all going on right under everyone’s noses.”
Detective Capt. Jeff Rasche, on possible drug dealing in a Greenfield neighborhood
Prosecutors were working Monday to finalize the list of charges they plan to bring against 20-year-old Gurinder Khera.
Investigators found cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and a substance believed to be heroin in Khera’s Greenfield home, along with several handguns and empty gun boxes, police said. Investigators believe Khera was dealing drugs and illegally selling firearms.
Khera was being held in the Hancock County Jail at press time on preliminary charges of dealing cocaine, dealing methamphetamine, dealing marijuana and possession of each drug, carrying a handgun with a license and maintaining a common nuisance, according to jail records.