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Mount Vernon, IL

Elite Fighting Force Against Meth

Elite Fighting Force Against Meth
By: Arnold Wyrick
Mount Vernon, Illinois - The problems with methamphetamine usage, and manufacturing began on a small scale in Illinois, back in 1997. But now it's become public enemy number one for law enforcement agencies across the state.
"The governor, state, and local law enforcement along with state and federal prosecutors are fed up with this horrific habit. Plus your cost to our departments, and the citizens of our state. You may not have wanted our full attention, but you now have it," says Director of the Illinois State Police, Larry Trent.
"So the message to meth users, and manufactures is, we're coming."
And with a specially trained task force of 56 state troopers, whose sole duties will be ridding meth from Illinois.
"We are short handed anyway. And any help we can get will definitely help us. And we definitely have a meth problem in Union County. So we're definitely going to appreciate the help," says Sheriff James Nash, of Union County.
The elite meth fighters will hit the streets in Illinois, in mid May. Once they are imbedded in local communities they will go to work tracking down meth users, and makers.
"We noticed that our numbers were escalating before anything happened in Missouri. But obviously now we do have some crossover from that state," Director Trent said.
The number of meth labs broken up in Illinois, in 1997, totaled 24. In 2004 that number rose to 959. That's what's pushed the war on meth to the front burner for law enforcement across the state.
"In 1997 all of us were a little bit naive about the potency of this drug," Director Trent said.
Now police are no longer naive about the problems methamphetamine usage has created in their communities.
"I've been doing this a long time, more then 30 years now. This is the worst drug that I've ever seen, it is. It just devastates families," says Sheriff Elry Faulkner, of Johnson County.
Sheriff Faulkner is hopeful the new task force will be able to help clean up his county.
"If they will come in and investigate like the director says, it will take a big load off of my people. I can give them two or three that needs a lot of attention right now," Sheriff Faulkner said.
Another part of the operations of the task force will be to set up disposal sites for meth contaminated items, to relieve local agencies from the cost, and dangers of disposal of those items.
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