Drug cases backed up in Iowa - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Drug cases backed up in Iowa

Files in the sheriff's office. Files in the sheriff's office.
Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber
Sheriff says backlog has been an issue for years. Sheriff says backlog has been an issue for years.

Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said drugs are a problem in his backyard and on top of that, the state is dealing with a high case load. 

More than 300 pounds of meth from across Iowa was submitted to the state lab through October, that's nearly double what the lab saw last year, according to state data.

Heroin cases have quadrupled since last year and local officials think it could get worse. 

"The drugs are prominent," Keokuk resident Danielle Ryder said. "That's for sure here in the Midwest. For a lot of people, it is really easy to get."

Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said  there was a big meth manufacturing boom in the mid 2000s and it's led to this trend. 

"I expect with stronger borders that it it will clamp down on the ice that is coming from Mexico, and we will see more people manufacturing again," Weber said. "It will back load the system even further." 

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation lab said their employees see 400-600 individual drug cases each month containing 1,500 to 2,000 items.

"I wish they would hire more criminalist at the lab or cross train them so they can do other jobs while they are there instead of waiting," Weber said. "They don't do that and they don't ask us."

Weber led the drug task force before being sheriff.

He said many people would commit a crime in the county and then commit the same crime in another county to backlog the system with more testing.

Ryder said that's why more rehab needs to do be done rather than criminal time .

"They are not getting help," Ryder said. "It's less about criminal and more about a health issue. It should focus  on help rather than prison time." 

Weber says many cases have been solved by using presumptive testing, which are tests that are less precise and indicate that an illegal substance may be present. He believes that's the test that will help fight the backlog.  
"Take our word for it and charge them, the lab results can follow them down the road," Weber said. "As long as they don't ask for speedy trial, they can get it in 40-60 days."

State lab officials said they prioritize certain samples based on prosecution deadlines. 

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