In an effort to put a stop to the influx of illegal drugs and ensure public safety, the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Narcotics Team or Tri-DENT agents seized narcotics worth millions of dollars in 2017 in three counties — Putnam, Bureau and LaSalle. Heroin accounted for 38 percent of the total arrests while other drugs recovered were cocaine, cannabis, LSD, methamphetamine and prescription medications.
In 2017, the Tri-DENT agents seized a record 15 pounds of heroin and 47,000 pills of fentanyl worth more than $1 million. The seized drugs will eventually be burned at a filtered furnace or sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for disposal.
Influx of fentanyl-laced heroin
According to an undercover Tri-DENT commander, while heroin still seems to pose a problem in the Illinois Valley, the influx of fentanyl-laced heroin has caused even a greater problem for the community. The team has witnessed a significant increase in the influx of heroin laced with fentanyl as well as a steady rise in interstate trafficking of the deadly opioid. Due to the toxicity of the substance, the agents had to take necessary precautions by using respirators and special gloves during the arrests. The samples were then sent to the Illinois State Police for testing.
The commander’s viewpoint is reflected in two of the biggest arrests made in 2017 in Bureau County. In July, Tri-DENT agents found 3 kilos of fentanyl in the rear deck of a vehicle on Interstate 80. Later, in October, the agents stopped a car for overspeeding and lane violation. On searching the vehicle, they discovered 7 kilos of heroin and nine bags containing 47,000 pills of fentanyl.
Efforts to check drug trafficking
As per the undercover Tri-DENT commander, the team is determined to serve the citizens of Illinois Valley in tracking down illegal narcotics dealers and traffickers. The agents continue to work with the local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to ensure that the drugs remain off the street. According to Tom Smith, chairman of Tri-DENT’s advisory board and chief of the Mendota Police Department, the team is working hard and has been quite busy for several years.
The team consists of officers from Princeton, Streator, Oglesby, LaSalle, and Mendota police departments, along with officers from the sheriff’s offices of LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam County.
Heroin overdose on the rise
As the nation continues to suffer from a deadly opioid crisis, recent times have seen a rise in the number of heroin overdose cases with an estimated 948,000 people (aged 12 or older) using the drug in 2016 and an estimated 0.6 million people suffering from heroin use disorder.
Classified as a Schedule I substance, heroin can be injected, sniffed, snorted or smoked, and is often mixed with other drugs to increase its euphoric effects. Due to lower costs and easy availability, there has been an increase in the number of users turning to heroin, the number of heroin seizures by law enforcement agencies and cases of heroin-related overdose deaths nationwide.
Heroin is a highly addictive substance and its abuse can lead to a number of serious health conditions, including liver or kidney diseases, slowed respiration and poor dental health. It is advisable to seek addiction treatment at certified addiction rehab centers at the earliest before it’s too late.
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