Meeker County deputy suspected of stealing from drug take-back box

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A Minnesota sheriff's deputy is suspected of stealing from two local services aimed at helping the community – a prescription drug drop-off box, and a toy drive.

According to a press release from the Meeker County Sheriff's Office, the deputy was arrested on Tuesday and is now being held on pending criminal charges. He's suspected of taking controlled substances out of the drug take-back box, as well as stealing toys from the county courthouse – which were stored there for a toy drive – over this past holiday season.

The release adds that investigators searching his home found evidence of the drug thefts, a "small amount of marijuana," and the toys.

The sheriff's department told BringMeTheNews the investigation started in November after department employees observed "things happening" around the office that raised their suspicions about the deputy, who's been with Meeker County since 2009.

The department added he's now facing multiple theft and drug charges, as well as charges related to police officer misconduct.

No further comment could be given because the investigation, which was assisted by the nearby Renville County Sheriff's Office, is still ongoing. The department says there is no evidence "at this time" that any of the deputy's colleagues were involved.

Six years ago, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration launched its drug Take-Back initiative, reporting in October 2010 that people across the country had turned in more than 242,000 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs at some 4,000 of the new drop sites. Since then, they've taken in over 5 millions pounds of drugs, the agency says.

The initiative was in response to a rise in prescription drug abuse. According to the Abington Journal, abuse of medications has "quadrupled over the past 10 years" and is now responsible for more drug-related deaths "than all other illegal street drugs combined."

Last year alone, Hennepin County destroyed nearly 11 tons of unused, unwanted prescription drugs.

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