Lake County police seized 120 illegally possessed guns, $7 million in drugs last year, a record

A federally funded group of Lake County police officers seized more illegal guns and drugs during 2022 than in any previous year and rescued two people victimized by human traffickers, officials said Thursday.

The Lake County sheriff's office's Special Investigations Group captured 120 illegally possessed firearms and drugs valued at nearly $7 million during operations throughout the county last year.

The haul topped previous highs set in 2021 when the group seized 54 firearms and around $5 million in drugs, Lake County sheriff's Deputy Chief Chris Covelli said.

The team, referred to by officials as SIG, made 67 arrests and opened 112 criminal cases, officials said.

Sheriff John Idleburg said the group has placed a major emphasis on arresting drug traffickers, seizing illegally possessed firearms and rescuing people from human trafficking.

Covelli said the two people who were rescued from human traffickers had been taken from their home countries and since have been reunited with their families abroad.

The team is staffed by sheriff's deputies and officers from six Lake County municipal police departments including Round Lake Beach's and Round Lake Park's, as well as federal agents from Homeland Security, the DEA, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The breakdown is around 60% municipal police officers and 40% federal agents, Covelli said.

Covelli said he didn't have the number of personnel in the group on hand but said the team was larger in 2022 than ever before. He said the amount of federal dollars spent on the group also was unavailable.

Police officers from Park City, Wauconda, Winthrop Harbor and Zion also are on the team.

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