In an undercover investigation over the last 14 weeks, Rockford and Winnebago County law enforcement teamed with federal drug officers to seize thousands of dollars in narcotics. The drugs will be destroyed, their value reduced to nothing authorities could confiscate other valuable property from the drug dealers.
Officers searched 33 local residences in the recent drug busts. Thirteen of those were privately-owned homes that may be seized under narcotics law.
Winnebago County State's Attorney Paul Logli explains the law: "It allows you to seize property if there's norcotic trafficking going on on that property, or if that property was purchased as a result of profits made in drug trafficking."
Police and the state's attorney's office handle the seized property. Logli says they do not confiscate property if the owners were unaware illegal activity was going on there. They also factor in the value of the property in deciding whether or not to take it over.
Says Logli, "There are many times when the value of the property is all but taken up by the indebtedness of the property and so we really don't net anything out. But we have deprived the owner of the use of the property."
As homes, like one in the 1700 block of Kishwaukee, begin to be seized and stand empty, police will keep a close watch on the vacant buildings and ask neighbors to alert them if they see any illegal activity.
Property that's seized is turned over to the state to auction off. Proceeds are divided between several city and state agencies.
Logli says, "The money is then used to support either police functions in the area of narcotics suppression and arrest and it also supports the prosecution function."
Police also confiscated about $75,000 in cash that will go to the same funds.
Seventy-nine people were arrested in the drug busts. They will go to trial within the next few months.