Hooked: Battle at the Border, Part 1

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND)- In January, staff at WAND-TV set out to learn more about the opioid crisis in Illinois.

We had covered local efforts to stop drug abuse and prevent overdoses, but we wanted to dig deeper and cover the topic in a more comprehensive way.

We invited local law enforcement, health experts, counselors and others for a candid off-camera conversation.

Several law enforcement officers suggested we pay closer attention to the sources of illegal drugs: drug cartels operating across the U.S. border with Mexico.

"I would have never thought … we would have drugs in Christian County from the Mexican cartels, but we do,” said Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp, in a later interview. “That's where it's coming from. Not only the meth, but the heroin."

Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett attended the meeting, too. He owns land at the Mexican border in Arizona and has conducted research on smuggling there. He offered to show our crew around the area, share that research, and introduce our crew to local law enforcement, ranchers and others.

In the months since, WAND has aired an ongoing series about the opioid crisis in Illinois, called Hooked. In March, our crew traveled to Arizona to meet with Buffett and others.

 Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 p.m., we are airing a special report called Hooked: The Battle at the Border showing what we learned about the flow of illegal drugs while in Arizona. Then, at 6 p.m. Thursday, we are airing an hourlong special about the opioid crisis in Illinois, followed by an online town hall meeting. You can find more information here.

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