CHICAGO (WLS) -- With great fanfare last month, federal authorities coordinated a prescription drug-turn-in and nearly one-million pounds of pills were surrendered by people who no longer need them.
That was just the beginning of the heavy lifting.The I-Team was given exclusive access to the secret drug warehouse in Chicago where U.S. officials temporarily store unneeded meds that were turned in. Last month's effort received extraordinary attention because of the opioid crisis across the country that takes thousands of lives each week from overdoses.
Cook County and the Chicago metro area have been particularly hard hit-with more than 1000 OD deaths so far in 2017.The turn-in numbers just in for the local collection --nearly 30,000 pounds - was slightly less than last spring's haul.
Nationwide though, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials said they collected 6 tons more in unwanted pills than the previous year.
According to authorities, the drugs will not be kept at the Chicago warehouse for long. They are going to be shipped to an EPA incineration site in the Midwest, under heavy guard, for permanent disposal.
Thursday night at 10: The I-Team investigates "The Pain Pendulum" - how the war on opioids is hurting some Chicagoans who are dealing with excruciating pain.
The great drug turn-in: What happens now?