File Photo | Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Lake County will be receiving federal assistance to help combat drugs after the county was designated as a high intensity drug trafficking area by the White House.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program is operated under the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The program provides federal support to law enforcement agencies in designated counties with coordination, equipment, technology, and additional resources to combat drug production and trafficking.

“This is a huge opportunity for the people of Lake County to reduce the effects of drugs in our community,” said Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim.

“This designation is a real game changer for us and it will expand our strategy of aggressively targeting the drug supply that has crippled areas of Lake County, while at the same time working to compassionately reduce demand by stressing education, treatment, and harm reduction practices,” Nerheim added.

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The funds will help the collaborative effort between the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Group (SIG) and the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

To be considered for HIDTA designation, the Special Investigations Group showed the disruption and dismantling of organized crime, conducted long-term investigations focused on drug trafficking leading to arrests and convictions, and partnered with municipal as well as federal agencies to combat drug trafficking, according to Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli.

Last year, the Special Investigations Group seized $110,256 worth of heroin, $1,200,313 worth of cocaine, 55 guns and conducted 22 presentations to educate the community on human, gun, and drug trafficking, Covelli said.

Since January, the group seized $117,300 worth of cocaine, $108,710 worth of crack cocaine, $8,676 worth of heroin, $41,280 worth of meth, $2,880 worth of prescription pills, $1,640 worth of ecstasy, $5,100 worth of fentanyl, conducted 10 presentations and charged 61 felonies.

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“With Lake County being positioned between Chicago and Milwaukee, it is a hub for drug trafficking. The Lake County community will see great benefits with the additional resources to target drug traffickers. We expect to see an increase in the arrest of drug traffickers and a decrease in the number of overdose deaths afflicting our community,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.

The Special Investigations Group consists of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County States Attorney’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Zion Police, Park City Police, Grayslake Police, North Chicago Police, Lake County Forest Preserve Police, Round lake Beach Police, Lake Villa Police, Wauconda Police and Lake Forest Police.