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New anti-drug task force working in Dixon

10 search warrants, ‘major arrest’ in division’s first 3 months

Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 18, 2014 10:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
Sgt. Matt Coppotelli
Caption
Tysheed Steward

DIXON – Four months after the Dixon Police Department launched a pilot street crimes division, the results are in, and it’s here to stay.

The division was created, Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss said, to give officers the opportunity to work full time on drug cases instead of having to balance their schedules with patrol shifts.

At a Dixon City Council meeting last week, Sgt. Matt Coppotelli was officially announced as the sergeant in charge of the new division. He supervises two officers.

Coppotelli, 38, has been with the department for 17 years. His father, Gary Coppotelli, was chief of police before Langloss was appointed.

Matt Coppotelli has worked as a patrol sargeant, as a member of the detective division, and as the leader of the department’s SWAT team.

Since the new division was launched in January, Langloss said, the team has focused strongly on ridding the streets of Dixon of heroin, cocaine, and MDMA (“ecstasy’), as well as anyone involved in their trafficking.

“They’re really doing a good job,” Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller said. “They’re able to follow up on things that we haven’t been able to follow up on for a long time. ... I think it’s good because various news agencies have been reporting about the heroin epidemic, and so we’re trying to stop it from coming in.”

In just a few months, the team has executed 10 search warrants and arrested a man who, police say, is believed to be one of largest heroin dealers in the area.

That man is Tysheed Steward.

Steward, 34, formerly of Chicago and Wisconsin, was arrested in February. Police say he sold less than a gram of heroin to an informant in front of Sterling High School.

Stemming from that arrest, he is being charged in Lee County with unlawful criminal drug conspiracy. Last week, a Lee County judge decided three other charges originally brought against Steward were to be transferred to Whiteside County. Those charges are delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, delivery of a controlled substance, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

Langoss declined to give details on the investigation.

“It’s been a tremendous success,” Langloss said of the results so far. “They’ve just scratched the surface of what they’re going to do.”

Langloss said there is no known organized gang activity in Dixon now, nor associated shootings or activity.

“Our approach over the years has changed,” he said. “This is just the latest change in response to the tactics that the dealers in the area are using. ... It’s just the next evolution in our war on drugs.”

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