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Lee County law enforcement part of drug take-back

LEESBURG — Lee County law enforcement agencies will take part in their second prescription drug take-back day Saturday.

The nationwide event, sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, allows citizens to turn in potentially harmful prescription drugs and other pharmaceuticals for safe disposal.

“We participated in the take-back last year and had some success despite limited prior advertising,” Lee Code Enforcement Director Jim Wright said. “We collected more than 15 pounds of pills, and that convinced us we needed to take part in the program again.

“The idea is to properly dispose of the drugs so that they aren’t dumped into toilets and sinks and enter wastewater treatment facilities. Chemicals in the drugs are not treated at treatment plants and end up in our waterways. The removal of old, unused and unneeded drugs also keeps them from being abused or accidentally ingested by a child.”

Lee County citizens may drop off their unwanted drugs or pharmaceutical items at the Lee County Sheriff’s Department or at the Leesburg and Smithville police stations. Police officers in both municipalities will pick up drugs for citizens who are unable to deliver them, and Wright will make collections in the county.

“We’ll take any drugs — vitamins, unused prescription items, cough syrup, even illegal drugs — no questions asked,” Wright said. “We can’t take syringes or items that have biological material on them for obvious reasons, but we’ll take any other pharmaceutical items.

“We’ve actually gotten a call from a family member of someone who is no longer with us who was taking morphine and wanted to dispose of it. The best way to do that is to turn it in to one of our agencies. We’ll keep all that we collect in the locked storage room at the sheriff’s office until the DEA comes to pick it up.”

Lee officials will be collecting the drugs and pharmaceuticals from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. People who cannot deliver items to a law enforcement agency may call (229) 759-6012 for pickup.

“I recently spoke with Capt. Danny McTyeire with the Lee County Drug Unit and was told that 70 percent of all drug cases made in the county now are prescription pill-related,” Wright said. “That means more pills are being abused than marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines.”