Our View: Fight against drug dealing

We don’t want DeKalb to become a destination for people looking to score illegal narcotics.

As reported in Tuesday’s Daily Chronicle, police officials say that is becoming a growing trend.

“Customers don’t have to leave town as much as they used to,” DeKalb police Cmdr. John Petragallo said. “We’re having people from more rural towns come into DeKalb now to purchase their drugs. To someone from a very small place, we’re a place to go.”

DeKalb police are trying to change that perception. But the problem appears to be growing at the moment.

Heroin is becoming more prevalent in the city, police officials say, as is “molly,” a powdered form of MDMA, known on the street as ecstasy. In September, police said they found 22 kilograms of cocaine that two Arizona men had with them when they landed at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport.

Heroin’s addictive and life-destroying effect on users is well-known. Now there is even a copycat substance known as “krokodil” or crocodile, which infects and eats away the flesh of users who believe they are injecting heroin.

Aside from the dangers these drugs pose to their users, attracting more drug users and addicts to town increases the risk of property and other crimes, beyond the drug transactions they come to execute.

Meanwhile, although “molly” is thought to be a harmless party drug, it can be cut with any other kind of powdered substance, detergent or baking soda or something more harmful – the end user has no way of knowing.

DeKalb police are taking a good approach in targeting not just street-level dealers, but smugglers from outside the community who are supplying them. Such people often have street gang or other organized crime affiliations. Under the leadership of Chief Gene Lowery, police have formed a Targeted Response Unit, with four officers focusing on specific illegal activities including drug trafficking.

The idea is to improve police information-gathering capabilities and intercept more shipments of illegal drugs intended for our communities. Our hope is that they will succeed and higher-level distributors will decide that sending large quantities of narcotics to DeKalb is not worth the risk to their bankroll or their freedom.

Most people in the community – including at Northern Illinois University – do not use illegal drugs. However, there are some who do, and it would be naïve to think that will change in the foreseeable future.

But there’s a difference between having demand for recreational drugs and being a destination for addicts who need a fix. Those are visitors our community does not need, and we hope the police will be successful in their efforts to send a chill through the local drug market.