Illinois State Police: Combined illegal drugs seized valued at $71M in FY 2021
ILLINOIS - Addressing the continued opioid epidemic, along with meth addiction, Illinois State Police announced Thursday that the Metropolitan Enforcement Groups dramatically increased the percentage of dangerous drugs and weapons seized in FY 2021, recovering illegal drugs valued at approximately $71 million.
According to a news release from ISP, the Metropolitan Enforcement Groups (MEGs) are on the front lines of narcotic enforcement strategies, prevention, and treatment strategies. MEGs represent a collaborative effort among state, federal, and local law enforcement agencies to enforce Illinois drug laws and investigate street gang activity.
ISP said MEGs partner with the Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center (STIC) and Illinois National Guard Counterdrug analysts to reduce crime through intelligence led policing which focuses enforcement efforts on felony level drug distribution and trafficking. MEGs partner with community groups, health organizations, and local stakeholders to address and prevent substance abuse disorders affecting communities throughout Illinois, according to the release.
"Through the strong state, local and federal partnerships of the MEG units, drug enforcement across our state is focused on apprehending violent, drug-trafficking criminals profiting off the pain of those losing loved ones to dangerous drugs" stated Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly. "The ISP is thankful for the community-based partnerships like those of the MEG units because it leads to a more united, more effective front pushing back against these merchants of misery causing of this ongoing epidemic."
ISP said during FY21, MEG agents in nine different units opened approximately 1,404 investigations and closed approximately 1,131 cases, with approximately 1,247 ongoing investigations. MEG agents made 2,229 seizures of illegally possessed cannabis, cocaine, crack, ecstasy, fentanyl and carfentanyl, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, pharmaceuticals, psilocybin and other dangerous drugs with an estimated street value of just under $71,100,000 – resulting in 878 arrests for either delivery or possession of those illegal substances. They also made 68 gang-crime related arrests, according to state police.
A 2017 report by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) concluded MEG units were effective at making proportionally more felony and manufacture/delivery arrests than their local counterparts alone, ISP said.
Applying the principles and conclusions of this report has the MEG units concentrating their efforts on felony trafficking investigations and arrests rather than personal users. This key focus on felony level drug offenses paves the way for the education and treatment programs to function effectively by breaking the cycle of drug addiction, ISP said.
In their efforts to address and prevent substance abuse, MEG Agents also partnered with a number of community groups.
Kelly said that effective Jan. 1, the statute governing the MEGs was amended by the Illinois General Assembly to expand their jurisdiction to include the investigation and enforcement of human trafficking, firearms offenses, and violations of the Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) Act. This will enable the MEGs to better prioritize operations in the on-going effort to reduce drug-related violent crime in metropolitan areas within the State of Illinois.
In FY20, nine MEGs received a total of $1,170,000 in funding, according to ISP. Funding was derived from Federal Asset Forfeiture Funds, State Asset Forfeiture Funds, and Drug Traffic Prevention Funds (DTPF).