Drug trafficking and use is at the root of the vast majority of crimes and criminal activity in Franklin County, authorities agree.
That was the key take-away from the recent crime and drug summit held at East Central College which featured law enforcement, civic leaders and medical and substance abuse experts.
It became keenly evident this week as deputies and investigators with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and detectives with the county’s drug task force were close to wrapping up a two-week-long investigation that led to solving multiple burglaries and thefts and the recovery of many items of stolen property.
Of the multiple suspects arrested in the investigation, all have histories of drug crimes and activity and are known to investigators with the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit.
“Everything revolves around dope,” remarked Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, head of the drug task force.
A burglary task force headed by Cpl. Adam Albert and Detective Jim Briggs was formed two weeks ago and started following leads in an attempt to solve more than 100 burglaries and thefts that occurred in 2013 and early 2014.
Albert called the two-week operation “a focused effort” on arresting suspects and recovering property for burglary victims.
He said leads uncovered are still being investigated and that patrol officers and detectives were in the process of seeking more suspects Friday.
“We still have an open investigation,” Albert told The Missourian Friday morning.
He said citizens with information regarding possible suspects or stolen property are asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 636-583-2560.
“The public’s input is vital to our investigation,” Albert remarked.
Albert said as the task force investigation proceeded, officers developed “substantial” leads on suspects.
“Over the entire two weeks, a number of suspects were arrested on outstanding warrants, for burglaries, stolen property and drug crimes,” Albert said.
One person has been charged in the investigation so far, but Albert said felony charges are pending against a number of other suspects in the burglaries.
Jeremy Gillette, 20, St. Clair, is charged with second-degree burglary and felony stealing. He was being held in the county jail on a $30,000 cash-only bond.
Grellner said drug task force officers were requested to assist DFS workers investigating a hotline call Tuesday at a home in Sullivan because it was reported that there was drug activity in the home where two small children resided.
Officers questioned two men living in the home and seized two firearms that had been stolen in burglaries, Grellner said.
Information gleaned from that investigation led to additional suspects in the Sullivan and St. Clair areas.
On Thursday, patrol officers and detectives followed leads and went to a home in St. Clair where they seized more stolen property and also found a meth lab in a parked vehicle, according to Grellner. A 30-year-old man was questioned and admitted to making meth the day before, he said. Charges will be sought against that suspect.
Officers recovered a large amount of items, including an 18-foot dual axle trailer and a John Deere 4X2 Gator, that had been stolen in a burglary off of Happy Sac Road.
Albert said other stolen goods recovered included jewelry, electronics, guns and power tools.
Albert said the overall investigation involved burglaries “throughout” Franklin County and that the investigation could continue for some time.
Grellner noted that narcotics officers assisted in the joint effort “because we know these guys (suspects)” from prior drug investigations.
He said that marijuana and other drugs were found at all the locations that were investigated.