Drug arrests point back to small-town bar

A small town bar is at the center of a drug ring. One that netted five arrests in the last 24 hours. Shelby Rose went to McLean County to investigate the drug problem in the area and has the story.

Underwood, a small town with nearly 800 residents, had a bit of a commotion Wednesday afternoon. The McLean County Sheriff's Department along with 3 other agencies conducted 6 search warrants which led to 5 arrests. And it all pointed back to a local bar where its bartender was one of those arrested for selling methamphetamine in the establishment.

"A lot of our intel that we get from a lot of our cases in Underwood always leads back to the Black Nugget Bar," said McLean County Sheriff's Detective Justin Krohmer. 

The McLean County detective who's based in Washburn says this isn't a new problem for his county.

Krohmer added, "Underwood has been an ongoing problem with narcotics. And when I say that, that means the past probably 15 to 20 years it has been a problem town in our county."

So, I decided to drive north 15 miles to Underwood to speak with the locals myself. My first stop: the Black Nugget Bar. However, after talking with the owners, they decided not to have a comment.

For two hours we reached out to people to see if they felt Underwood is facing drug problems, no one wanted to speak on camera. I then spoke with the Underwood principal who says he doesn't see a problem at school. But he's glad the Sheriff is taking an active approach in getting drugs off the street.

"I think they're very active. They know what's going on. I've been in contact with them and they know what's happening, and they know where the hot spots are so to speak. It's just a matter of do we have the resources to do anything with it," said principal Lee Weisgarber.

A look into the 2016 crime report, McLean County had almost double the amount drug offenses as neighboring Morton County. 

I did reach out to the mayor of Underwood, Leon Weisenburger. While he wasn't able to speak on camera, he did tell me that he thinks it's the county as a whole that has a drug problem, not specifically Underwood. But he commends the sheriff's department for being aggressive and putting pressure on the users to minimize their presence in town. 

This follows a 2-million dollar drug bust in McLean County Tuesday. 20 pounds of methamphetamine and 2 pounds of marijuana were found after a car search on Highway 41.

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