West central Illinois drug cases

Last week (6/11) the West Central Illinois Task Force arrested a Payson, Illinois man for having a marijuana growing operation in his home.

As KHQA's Jarod Wells found out from Task Force Director Bob Short on Thursday, June 17th, this is nothing new to the team.

The pictures attached to this story are from the the indoor marijuana growing operation that the West Central Illinois Task Force uncovered.

West Central Illinois Task Force Director Bob Short said, "From 2008 to 2009 we had a 23% increase in total arrests, total drug arrests."

Bob short says the biggest increases were seen in cannabis and prescription pill cases.

Short said, "In cannabis cases we had a 111% increase. In prescription pill cases we had a 130% increase. And then our overall cases we had a 53% increase."

Which is the biggest increase the task force has even seen from one year to the next.

Short said, "Now I think that that's due to several things. One is, the overall cases from 2008 to 2009 we had an additional couple of personnel assigned to the task force. The other is, prescription pill cases, it's a whole new type of drug dealer."

Short says prescription pill dealers can legally posses the drugs they sell.

Short said, "It's just a different type of person that we're dealing with. We get a lot of them that are housewives, for example, that either got hooked on the drugs themselves, or they're trying to make extra money. It's just easier because these people can legally posses the drugs they have and then they turn around and sell them."

As budget issues continue in the state of Illinois, Short realizes many agencies are struggling with staffing.

Short said, "I expect our cases to probably decrease some what, because we basically, for this year, lost 2 for manpower issues."

But that doesn't mean that cases like this aren't still out there.

Short said, "We've in the last, I believe 6-8 months, we've located two sophisticated indoor grows and in both of these cases on the the indoor grows the suspects told us that they learned to do this off of the internet. So I would expect that there's probably more out there, it's just a matter of finding them."

One of the things that concerns West Central Illinois Task Force Director Bob Short is that more young people are using marijuana.

He also says many of the older drug dealers that used to sell cocaine or heroin, are now selling marijuana.