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Helicopter Called In to Help with Macomb Drug Bust

Tuesday nights are generally pretty quiet in Macomb.  But this week was an exception as police raided a house near the Western Illinois University campus.

Police Chief Curt Barker and Lieutenant Lindsey May said a search warrant was executed at 334 N. Charles St. after a roughly month-long investigation into drugs and firearms.

The Illinois National Guard provided a helicopter to help with the operation.

“The helicopter surveillance was used to provide safety to the officers and the SWAT team on the ground as well as the officers doing surveillance on the residence,” said May.

Two People Arrested

Credit Courtesy McDonough County Sheriff's Department
Joaquez Ratliff

Joaquez Ratliff, 19, of 334 N. Charles St. is charged with the Manufacture/Delivery of Cannabis Greater than 500 Grams and Less than 2,000 Grams, Possession of Cannabis Greater than 500 Grams and Less than 2,000 Grams, and Resisting/Obstructing a Police Officer.

May said Ratliff tried to flee the home during the raid by jumping out a first floor window. May said Ratliff was in possession of a large amount of cannabis and currency and suffered a laceration to his face as he jumped out the window.

May said the investigation found residents of the home were selling marijuana, MDMA, and ecstasy, and that they had weapons in the house.

Credit Courtesy McDonough County Sheriff's Department
Autumn Winfield

The other person arrested is Autumn Winfield, 21, of Evanston, Illinois. She is charged with the Manufacture/Delivery of Cannabis and Possession of Cannabis Greater than 500 Grams and Less than 2,000 Grams.

May said eight people were at the home at the time of the raid.  All were taken into custody and questioned.  He said more arrests are expected.

Drug Violence

Chief Barker said police seized 1,726 grams of cannabis and a firearm with the serial number filed off.

He said the raid was not just about the cannabis.

“It’s about the violence associated with cannabis. That’s what we’re going after. If we get intelligence that you have firearms illegally, we’re going to come after you,” Barker said.

He added, “I want to stress the point that cannabis is not a victimless crime. A lot of the intelligence that we’re getting on the street is that drug dealers are being robbed on a regular basis because they’re selling cannabis and other individuals either want the cannabis or they want the cash.”

The raid was carried out by Macomb-McDonough County Drug Unit, which includes members from the Macomb Police Department, the McDonough County Sheriff’s Department, the Bushnell Police Department, and the Office of Public Safety at Western Illinois University.  They received assistance Tuesday night from the West Central Illinois Task Force, Illinois State Police, and the Illinois National Guard Counter Drug Task Force.

Barker said the city did not have to pay for use of the helicopter.  He said it’s a service provided by the Illinois National Guard.

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the important issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.