There is little question methamphetamine has its grips on a segment of the population. The drug once again was in the news plenty this year. The word “methamphetamine” appeared in the pages of the Herald-Whig on an average of just over one time per issue this year.
The West Central Illinois Task Force, a special drug-fighting unit made up of officers from the state, county and local levels, was as busy as ever. In Adams County alone, the group had seized 70 labs through the middle of December. That will put the group just shy of the 77 labs they seized in the county last year. When the state of Illinois compiles its statewide statistics early next year, Adams County once again figures to be among the leaders when it comes to meth lab seizures.
One case the task force worked on wound up trumping all others. On April 26, task force officers arrested John Grotts after searching his residence at 207 Walker in Ursa. At the time of his arrest, Grotts was the Adams County Probation Department’s representative on the county’s drug court program and was found to be living with a recent graduate of the program. Grotts was arrested on charges of possession of less than 5 grams of meth and unlawful use of property. Devin Lawton, 36, was arrested on an outstanding warrant for illegal possession of meth precursors.
Grotts’ arrest proved to be a temporary setback to the drug court program. He was fired from his position on May 9 and the program did not evaluate candidates for a few weeks after his arrest. There was just one drug court graduation ceremony this year. In every year except the program’s initial year in 2007, there have been two graduation ceremonies.
Grotts’ case was eventually taken over by the federal government. According to a federal affidavit, task force officers found a one-pot shake-and-bake meth lab among a number of other items of meth manufacturing waste. Cannabis and a cannabis pipe were found in a bedroom. In the basement of the residence, officers found a book on growing marijuana, four boxes of starting plugs, two scales, a water pump, three boxes of empty capsules, and a number of totes that contained more than 100 blue bags of plant material. Agents seized 11 guns from throughout the house.
Lawton, a May 2012 drug court graduate, was sentenced to seven years in prison after she pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of meth and unlawful possession of meth precursors.
“I have a sickness to meth,” Lawton said at her sentencing. “Hopefully this will knock some sense into me.”
Grotts has pleaded guilty to one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises on Oct. 23. The federal government will recommend probation for Grotts at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 24. He could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison.