Pope County Battling Meth Problem


By Matthew Searcy

POPE COUNTY --  Methamphetamine use continues to be a problem throughout southern Illinois. In Pope County, law enforcement officials say they have seen an increase in the number of meth-related crimes. 

"We've spent thousands of dollars in staff, overtime, and jail bills while fighting that battle," said Sheriff Jerry Suits. "It's a battle for us." 
Since he became sheriff four years ago, Suits' department has made 66 meth arrests. 
"There are techniques that law enforcement has that I have learned, but I can tell you it's not stopped here in Pope County," explained Suits. "It may be getting worse." 
In recent years, state programs have been put in place to curb the trend. Pharmacies have been tracking all sales of the meth ingredient, pseudoephedrine, and sending the information to police databases.
However, Suits says it hasn't been enough to put meth makers out of business. "Probably not a week goes by that we don't hear something about some kind of meth." 
With only two detectives at his disposal, Suits says keeping up with the case load has been difficult, but it's secondary crimes that he also has to worry about.  
"We've had a lot of people call us and say that someone has broken into their house and all they stole was medication," said Suits.  
The sheriff estimates the county was more than $100,000 over budget last year. That's money spent on jail bills and overtime, all in an effort to cut down on the county's meth problem. 
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