MEG ARRESTS 30 AT MUSIC FEST
Author: Angela Green And Leslie Williams
Peoria Journal Star (IL)
Thu, 01 Jun 2006
Cash, Mushrooms, LSD, Pot, Cocaine And Other Drugs Seized
CHILLICOTHE - Not everyone at last weekend's Summer Camp music festival at Three Sisters Park was there for a good time.
Just as in years past, a handful of undercover officers walked among the thousands of revelers, nabbing those who brought drugs to the party.
Agents with the Multi-County Narcotics Enforcement Group arrested 30 people involved in the illegal sale of drugs. They also seized $13,413 and recovered 2,373 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 91 hits of LSD, 394 grams of marijuana and smaller amounts of heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy and ketamine.
"It was pretty much the same thing this year as last year," MEG director Larry Hawkins said Wednesday of the three-day festival's open-air drug market. "We still had, like last year, people calling out what drugs they had for sale, but they were a little less obvious about it."
MEG officers dressed in street clothes worked their way through the crowds, buying drugs from people who then were arrested by a cover team dressed in plainclothes, Hawkins said.
Among those arrested were a Naperville private schoolteacher and an employee in the Juvenile Justice Division of the Cook County Public Defender's Office.
No local people were arrested in the bust. More than half of the campers arrested traveled in from out of state.
"These types of music festivals attract people who like to peddle drugs," Hawkins said. "Whether it's in Chillicothe or not, it's going to attract these types of people."
Last year, MEG arrested 29 people and seized an estimated $23,000 in narcotics and cash.
Though the busts received a lot of media attention in the past, it doesn't appear the publicity has hurt Summer Camp attendance. Preliminary figures show about 8,300 attendees this year, up slightly from 2005, Three Sisters Park Manager Chris Cassidy said Wednesday.
"We're glad they ( officers ) are there. . . . I think it is very good for the event. We don't want drugs there. Hopefully ( their presence ) clears it up, keeps the bad apples out," he said.
The festival has a significant impact on Chillicothe businesses, city officials say. Some of them reported business last weekend was four times what it usually is, Cassidy said.
Economic Development Director Lisa Burnett said Chillicothe's two hotels were booked up Thursday through Sunday, and the gas pumps and grocery stores stayed busy.
With the thousands of attendees, 30 arrests seems minimal, she said.
"This is a very safe, nonviolent event, with peace-loving people.
"Those people ( arrested ) probably won't come back. I don't think it will keep the others from coming back, though," she said.
Illinois State Police netted more than a dozen arrests conducting traffic stops on Illinois Route 29 south of Chillicothe. Peoria County sheriff's deputies and police from Washington and Peoria Heights assisted during the music fest.
"As long as they have a music festival with that amount of people we'll have people up there conducting narcotics investigations," Hawkins said. "We'll be there next year."