Kane state's attorney cites cocaine, heroin arrests in felony case increase
Kane County felony cases charged in 2017 increased 7 percent from the year before, a jump the state's attorney attributed to more drug arrests for cocaine and heroin.
Prosecutors last year authorized 2,413 felony cases, up from 2,255 filed in 2016.
Felony cases had been declining since a high-water mark of 3,349 in 2007, but have been on the rise since 2,111 were filed in 2015.
State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday his office charged 447 felony drug cases last year, and the most severe charge was possession with intent to deliver, delivery of a controlled substance or trafficking. That's a 42-percent increase over 2016, he noted.
"That is a significant spike," McMahon said. "This is alarming to me. It's concerning to me. Heroin remains a major concern."
The 2,413 felony cases in 2017 is 28 percent fewer than the record in 2007 and 17 percent fewer than the 2,909 felony cases filed in 2011, which was McMahon's first full year in office.
Heroin-related overdose deaths have been on the rise in Kane and surrounding counties.
In 2017, 67 people died in Kane County of heroin and opioid-related overdoses, according to McMahon's office. Last year, heroin overdoses killed 32 people and in 2014 and 2015, 22 and 21 people died of heroin overdoses, respectively, according to the coroner's office.
When evaluating the increase in felonies, one could argue it is due to more drugs coming into the area or perhaps law enforcement catching more criminals.
McMahon said it is probably a combination of both. Heroin use is up and so is the local supply, and police also are targeting dealers.
"Those drugs are highly addictive," McMahon said. "I think law enforcement in this county has always been focused on those types of cases."