Raid leads Oakland police to guns, drugs

February 24, 2009 10:28:52 PM PST
Oakland Police are fighting back and just days before Chief Wayne Tucker steps down, detectives and officers delivered a message to their critics. It came with the seizure of 33 guns, during raids on an illegal medical marijuana dispensary and an East Oakland residence.

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The Oakland Police seized a large arsenal during two recent raids. There were 33 guns in all, many of them semi-automatic weapons. And there was a point blank message top brass had for anyone critical of how the department handles violent crime.

"I want to be very clear that we consider that criticism an insult to the men and women of the department that consistently perform above and beyond the call of duty," said Deputy Chief David Kokicki, with the Oakland Police Department.

Sixteen of the guns came from a downtown cafe on Telegraph Avenue and the owner's San Ramon home. Police said the Lemon Drop Coffee Shop had been operating as an illegal medical marijuana dispensary.

"Anybody who went in off the street could just go in and buy marijuana," said Officer Jeff Thomason, with the Oakland Police Department.

Also seized was $16,000 in cash and two pounds of marijuana. The owner arrested on suspicion of selling and cultivating marijuana and possessing a firearm. Neighbors were shocked to learn what was really going on inside.

"I saw the sign Lemon Drop. I didn't know what it is," said Nikki Chhuth, a neighbor.

Seventeen more guns, $3,000 in cash and 23 rocks of crack cocaine came from a bust last Friday at an East Oakland home. The father and son who lived there were arrested, along with a 17-year-old boy. This time, neighbors say they knew exactly what was happening there.

"It's absolutely intolerable that we should have to tolerate that in our neighborhood," said Mel Willey, who has lived in the neighborhood over three decades.

In spite of Tuesday's plea for understanding by police, many like one East Oakland resident who did not want to be identified, remain critical of a department that saw 125 homicides last year.

"Something they don't do is they don't try to catch any of these people killing these peoples," said the East Oakland resident.

Police said Oakland residents can expect to see more even displays of their police work in the future. They hope to convince residents they're doing their part to curb violence on city streets.

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