Police shut down alleged walk-up drug window

Rockford Police claimed another victory in the fight against the city’s surging drug epidemic Aug. 26, shutting down an alleged walk-up drug window near Rockford’s Mid-Town District.

After multiple complaints from neighbors, Rockford Police searched an apartment at 1525 12th St., Aug. 26. Metro Narcotics Sgt. Marc Welsh said the search resulted in police arresting 22-year-old Anthony K. Glover and 21-year-old Steven P. Easter, both of Rockford.

Glover was charged with unlawful use of weapons by a felon, and Easter was charged with possession with intent to deliver more than 15 grams and not less than 100 grams of a controlled substance (heroin). Easter is held on $50,000 bond; Glover was released on bond.

“I think anytime a drug house is removed from a neighborhood, it’ll improve the neighborhood,” Welsh said. “It cleans up Rockford, [putting] the bad guys away.”

Both men had prior police records, according to the County Clerk’s office. Glover was charged with domestic battery in 2004; manufacturing with the intent to deliver and possession of a controlled substance in 2003; and a misdemeanor charge of resisting a police officer in 2000. Easter was charged with a misdemeanor of criminal trespass and possession of liquor by a minor in 2004; and possession of cannabis in 2003.

Police removed fortified front and hallway doors of the apartment as evidence. Welsh said it is illegal to bar doors when intending to perform illegal activity within a residence.

Walking up the entry way of 1525 12th St., a single-floor apartment complex with four dwellings, one sees a prophylactic on the way to the torn screen door of the house, and a garbage can full of trash adjacent to the small porch. Just one block from Keye Mallquist Park and a couple blocks from 11th Street and the Mid-Town District, one of the apartments in the building was allegedly the location of a popular walk-up drug window, where customers would use a window with a broken screen to transfer money and drugs.

An elderly neighbor told the new owner of the property she believed drugs were being dealt, but didn’t want to become involved. The apartment building is part of a neighborhood that is a complex mix of worn-down homes and carefully manicured properties. Illegal activity seems to wear on what has the potential to be a quaint, historical part of the city.

The owner of the property, who purchased the building about a month ago, said he became suspicious while mowing the lawn. He said he noticed a number of people going back and forth to one particular apartment, the majority young women. The owner also said he did not want his name used in this article for fear of retribution.

Surrounding neighbors said they were happy to see the alleged drug window shut down.

Sonya Hubbard, whose boyfriend lives in an adjoining apartment, said: “I think it’s good. They need to bust everyone they can.”

Another neighbor, Helen Gilbert, added, “You got little people (children) around here.”

The owner of the property said he is disappointed with the previous owners, Carolyn Friemuth and J. Mark and Angela Robinson, who he alleged did nothing with an “obvious” scenario.

Angela Robinson said when she owned the property, the apartment was leased to an elderly woman who had frequent visits from her daughter and grandchildren.

“I spent several days and evenings there,” Angela Robinson said. “I never noticed anything. I never saw any men there. When I sold it, it was not like that at all.”

The current owner said the lease to the apartment Glover and Easter were allegedly using to distribute drugs was still in the elderly woman’s name. The current owner also said he was under the impression the elderly woman’s daughter was residing in the apartment.

According to records obtained from the Winnebago County Recorder’s office, the property was signed over to the current owner July 29. The current owner said the two men did not know the former elderly resident.

While interviewing the current owner, six random people arrived at the apartment, apparently unaware the alleged drug window had been shut down.

An increase in drug-related arrests has been credited with contributing to the population in the Winnebago County Jail. As previously reported in the April 14-20, 2004, article “Drug epidemic plagues area”: “…planners for the county’s proposed $93-$130 million, 900- to 1,500-bed jail and alternative treatment programs acknowledge the scope of the drug problem has filled the jail with drug users and property crime offenders who steal to support their habits.” The article also noted that “heroin treatment admissions to area drug treatment centers increased from 90 in 1994 to 435 in 2002, an increase of 382 percent.”

According to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) Web site of www.icjia.state.il.us: “Between 1994 and 2003, the arrest rate for all drug law violations in Winnebago County increased 48 percent, from 378 to 560 per 100,000 population. Similarly, the total drug arrest rate in the other urban counties more than doubled between 1994 and 2003, from 323 to 665 per 100,000 population. In 2003, the drug arrest rate in Winnebago County was 16 percent lower than the rate in the other urban counties.

“In SFY 2004, drug offenders accounted for 35 percent of all admissions from Winnebago County.”

The ICJIA Web site also reported: “Between 1994 and 2003, arrests for total drug offenses (including violations of Illinois’ Cannabis Control Act, Controlled Substances Act, Drug Paraphernalia Control Act, and the Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act) increased 58 percent in Winnebago County, from 1,009 to 1,591. Beginning in 1994, total drug arrests in Winnebago County began increasing annually almost every year, peaking in 1998 and then declining almost every year thereafter.”

Welsh said with regard to drug arrests and the new jail, “[The] new prison doesn’t have any affect on what we do.”

To help combat Rockford’s drug epidemic, the Rockford Police Web site (www.ci.rockford.il.us/government/police/index.cfm?) suggests residents be aware of the following activities that are often associated with drug distribution:

A person or people loitering in or around the street (or street corner) who are approaching vehicles.

A person or people sitting in a vehicle in a parking lot who are repeatedly approached by pedestrians.

A large number of people visiting a residence for short periods of time, or speaking to the occupants of the residence through a window.

A large number of plastic bags in or around the yard of a residence.

A residence that has its porch light on at odd hours of the day or night.

Shoes with the shoelaces tied together and thrown over telephone lines or overhead electrical wires to indicate the location of a drug house.

People standing outside a residence or around a block talking on two-way radios.

Any other activity that cannot be dismissed with a common sense explanation.

Anyone wishing to report suspicious activity should contact the Narcotics Hotline at 815-963-7847, the Rockford and Winnebago County Metro Narcotics Unit at 815-987-5034, and/or the non-emergency line at 815-987-5800.

From the Sept. 14-20, 2005, issue

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