CHICAGO — Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced more than $5.3 million in federal funding that will be used to help fight the production, distribution, and use of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs throughout Illinois. Also today, the Governor announced a new database developed by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) that will help the State eliminate existing gaps in the information network that records the growing methamphetamine problem in the US. The database will be ready for use early next year.
“Methamphetamines and other illegal drugs destroy the lives of individuals, families and entire communities. We should use every resource at our disposal to fight the production, distribution and use of these drugs throughout the state. This funding will help us take another step forward by strengthening our ability to fight illegal drugs at the county level,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The federal Anti-Drug Abuse Act (also known as the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program) and the Justice Assistance Grant funding will aid 20 narcotics enforcement units and eight narcotics prosecution units fighting drug crimes in 66 Illinois counties.
ICJIA will administer the funds to the narcotics units, also known as metropolitan enforcement groups (MEGs) and drug task forces, throughout the state. ICJIA is the state agency designated by the Governor to administer Anti-Drug Abuse Act and Justice Assistance Grant funds awarded to Illinois by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Each unit will create specific strategies to address trends in the manufacture, use, and distribution of illegal drugs in each of the 66 counties. Methamphetamine use remains a major focus of task forces in central and southern Illinois, while units in northern counties, such as DuPage, Kane, and Lake, focus on marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and other designer drugs.
The multi-county narcotics units were first introduced in 1991. In 2005, MEGs and task force enforcement units:
- Made 3,470 drug arrests and obtained 2,233 convictions.
- Identified and seized 954 clandestine meth labs.
- Seized 166,583 grams of meth.
- Seized 29,465,964 grams of marijuana.
- Seized 1,156,216 grams of cocaine.
“MEG units and other special task forces are impacting the drug trade in Illinois,” said Authority Executive Director Lori G. Levin. “Illegal drug usage is epidemic and we’re going after it with all the resources we have available.”
Eight multi-county drug prosecution units will work with the MEGs and drug task forces to develop legally sound drug cases, prosecute offenders, and conduct forfeitures.
Enforcement unit grants will be given in the following amounts and serve the following counties:
State Line Area Narcotics Team (SLANT) Task Force – $119,996
Lake County MEG – $271,209
North Central Narcotic Task Force – $139,670
DuPage County MEG – $145,625
Blackhawk Area Task Force – $69,579
Jo Davies County
Joliet Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad – $139,644
Zone 3 / LaSalle Task Force – $58,634
Quad-Cities MEG – $31,895
Rock Island County
Kankakee MEG – $150,730
Multi-County MEG – $71,179
Zone 6 Task Force – $64,106
Vermilion County MEG – $143, 581
Central Illinois Enforcement Group – $138,569
West Central Illinois Task Force – $133,389
South Central Illinois Drug Task Force – $85,064
East Central Illinois Task Force – $107,122
Southeastern Illinois Drug Task Force – $134,002
Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois – $467, 598
St. Clair County
Southern Illinois Drug Task Force – $201,393
Southern Illinois Enforcement Group – $142, 498
Prosecution unit grants will be given in the following amounts and serve the following counties:
Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office – $1,271,946
Complex Drug Prosecutions Program
DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office – $156,415
Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office – $143,967
Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office – $204,858
McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office – $83,394
State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor – $440,486
Rock Island County
St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office – $108,003
Will County State’s Attorney’s Office – $132,528
In addition, ICJIA will use a $50,000 federal grant to create the Clandestine Laboratory Reporting Information System (CLARIS), a website and online database that will allow all law enforcement agencies in Illinois to report meth lab seizures. All agencies, including Illinois State Police, will report data through CLARIS to the federal El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) data repository. This comprehensive information-sharing network will provide data to help pinpoint allocation of resources for:
· Training and safety equipment for responders since both offenders under the influence of methamphetamine and the toxic chemicals used in the labs pose particular dangers to firefighters, police officers, and other responders.
· Services for innocent victims since children or neighbors living near a meth lab may suffer adverse health effects.
· Analysis to help law enforcement agencies identify offenders.
· Data to support treatment efforts for offenders.
Access to the EPIC national network requires membership fees to be paid through a regional information sharing system for information, presenting a hardship for small police departments. Another drawback to the present system is that the Illinois State Police network’s information is not completely assumed into the EPIC database. About 85 percent of Illinois methamphetamine lab seizure reports appeared in EPIC’s 2004 compilation.
Reporting lab seizures to EPIC will be required in order to receive federal funding for meth reduction activities. CLARIS allows the state obtain credit for all Illinois meth lab seizures. Accurate data will help in the process of obtaining federal grant funding to address meth issues in Illinois.
Since 2003, Gov. Blagojevich has taken several actions to make it harder for meth producers to obtain ingredients, and to stiffen penalties for manufacturers, dealers and users.
Last June, the Governor announced that in their first year of operation, the Illinois State Police’s six Meth Response Teams (MRT’s) handled a total of 750 meth related incidents, made 653 arrests and seized nearly 213,000 grams of drugs and materials related to the production of meth. The Governor created the MRT’s last year as part of the state’s ongoing effort to combat the proliferation of one of the fastest-growing and most dangerous illegal drug trades in Illinois.
Additionally, the Governor has signed several meth related bills into law, including the “Methamphetamine Precursor Control Act”, one of the most significant anti-methamphetamine statutes enacted to address meth. Senate Bill 273 created and designated pseudoephedrine as a Schedule V substance. The bill was signed by Governor Blagojevich in November 2005 and became effective on January 15, 2006. The new law restricts the retail sale of pseudoephedrine-containing products to pharmacists or pharmacist technicians only, and requires purchasers of pseudoephedrine-containing products to show identification and sign a log.
Other significant meth related bills signed by the Governor include legislation:
- Establishing a statewide methamphetamine offender registry in Illinois for people convicted under the “Participation in Methamphetamine Manufacturing” statute. The bill requires the ISP to establish, maintain, and publish (via the Internet) the registry, tracking reversals of convictions and court orders requiring the sealing or expungement of records relating to the reportable offenses.
- Creating the new offense of meth trafficking for individuals who knowingly bring methamphetamine or its precursors or cause methamphetamine or its precursors to be brought into Illinois with the intent to make, deliver, or sell meth. The new law will help prevent meth manufacturers from trying to get around Illinois’ tough restrictions on access to pseudoephedrine by going to other states for meth ingredients.
- Authorizing the establishment of an anhydrous ammonia security grant program by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The grant will create a pilot program with goal of increasing security measures around anhydrous ammonia facilities by encouraging the industry to utilize industry approved ammonia additives, install tank locking devices security systems to prevent the theft of anhydrous ammonia for the illegal manufacture of meth.
- Setting up the Methamphetamine Law Enforcement Fund, which assesses a $100 fine on top of other fines and sentences for anyone found guilty of a drug related offense involving possession or delivery of meth.