By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — Eric James may have elevated the idea of an open drug market to a whole new level.
And his customers may have been the most honest in the Cataract City.
But he's behind bars now, after Falls Police narcotics detectives and members of the department's Emergency Response Team staged a daring day-light raid at James' 20th Street home on Tuesday.
"We had numerous complaints about (James) over several months, so this was a long-term investigation," Narcotics Division Lt. Ted Weed said.
The timing of the raid though was triggered by an incident that occurred earlier in the day, a couple of blocks from James' home. Narcotics detectives had been drawn to that area as well by neighbor complaints and based on what they saw, decided to move on James.
"We saw an opportunity to act, and we did." Weed said.
Weed praised the ERT for pulling off the raid and executing a search warrant in the middle of a weekday afternoon.
"They were fantastic," the narcotics lieutenant said. " Lt. (Dave) Kok and the team did a great job."
After hitting the home, detectives said a search led them to two pounds of pot. Investigators also seized $4,500 in cash.
Weed said James did a "brisk' business, selling virtually around the clock and whether he was home or not.
"This guy had a system, where he would leave the back door to his home open and put a walker - like those that seniors or folks with a disability use - in the rear hallway," Weed said. "Then he would leave baggies of pot in the container under the seat of the walker."
Pot buyers would simply arrive, toss $15 into the basket and then take their baggie of marijuana.
"It was like the honor system," Weed said. "If he wasn't home, you came and helped yourself."
James, 43, 619 20th St., was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.