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DIRT Team Return Proves Successful
Drug dealers in Sangamon County have been feeling the pressure since a drug team within the sheriff's office returned.
Right down the street from Robert Malone, convicted felon Reginald Snope was busted for cocaine, marijuana, and illegally possessing a gun, just last week.
"Didn't even know about it," Malone said.
Since the Drug Interdiction Response Team, better known as the DIRT team, returned two months ago, the team has seized more than 242 grams of cocaine, around three and a half pounds of pot, plus 114 plants, almost $20,000 in cash and several pills waiting to be identified. This doesn't include totals for drug busts so far in May.
"It's great," Malone said. "I wish they would've never done away with the drug team."
One bust was at a home on South Livingston, where almost a pound of marijuana was found in March. Daisy Coppage lives nearby with her five kids.
"It's really unsafe," Coppage said. "I don't like letting them outside after dark. I have them come in the house after dark because you just never know. So much traffic, so much going on, it's just not safe at all."
Sangamon County's DIRT team was originally disbanded back in 2009 due to budget cuts. In the wake of rising crime stats earlier this year, Sheriff Neil Williamson brought it back in March.
"Drugs are tied to 80 percent of all crimes out there," Undersheriff Jack Campbell said. "The cost has not been that great to Sangamon County residents [to bring the DIRT team back]. It should be measured in terms of arrests and drugs off the street. We've gotten guns off the streets, people wanted on warrants, which all help collectively improve the quality of life for every resident of Sangamon County."
Something different the DIRT team is doing this time around is seizing more assets. Right now, the sheriff's office is trying to seize a house where they found an indoor marijuana grow. Although that process takes a little longer, officials say it's worth it because any money they get from seizing assets goes back to fight the war on drugs.