URBANA — A new street-crimes unit at the University of Illinois Police Department made its first arrests last weekend in what it hopes will be a long string of successes to come.
In the process, police say, they took a "veritable potpourri" of drugs off the street Saturday night when they arrested five people carrying a smattering of cocaine, marijuana, LSD and nitrous oxide and an estimated $23,000 worth of Ecstasy.
"I think this is an idea for our department that has been sitting on the shelf for a long time," said UI police Lt. Matt Myrick. "We've been wanting to do this, but we were waiting for personnel and staffing issues to work themselves out."
Two officers, William Reynolds and Anthony Carpenter, have been assigned to the street-crimes unit since Jan. 27. Their primary duties will be less attached to answering radio dispatches and more focused on "the hot spot or the crime issue of the day," Myrick said.
"I think what really got it brought to the forefront again was the string of robberies we had last fall," he said.
Sometimes the crime issue of the day could be those robberies. Other times, it might be thefts at UI libraries or the Illini Union.
On Saturday night, the hot spot was around a concert at the Canopy Club, 708 S. Goodwin Ave., U, so Reynolds and Carpenter were patrolling the area.
Just before 11 p.m., they found five people loitering around a car in the parking garage underneath Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, which is across Oregon Street from the Canopy Club.
As the officers approached, Tomas Rekesius, 20, who listed an address in Orland Park, allegedly dropped a plastic bag containing pink pills, said UI police Sgt. Tom Geis.
By the time the officers were done searching the suspects and the car, police said they had discovered more than $3,400 and 139 grams of Ecstasy in a pure powder form called "molly."
Myrick said more than 225 Ecstasy pills were ready for sale and those arrested allegedly had enough material to make about 500 more.
He said each pill can bring in about $20 on the street, and they estimate the materials to be worth a total of about $23,000.
Officers also found 21.8 grams of cocaine; marijuana; LSD or "acid"; a nitrous-oxide canister; and almost 50 grams of a white powder that officers are still waiting for a lab analysis to determine.
Rekesius and four others — Ieva Sobolevskyte, 19, who listed an address in Westmont; Shaji Ahmed Ali, 24, who listed an address in Chicago; Marshall F. Giorango, 19, who listed an address in Orland Park; and Sam Daniel Kacerovskis, 19, who listed an address in Orland Park — were arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
Rekesius was released from the Champaign County Jail after he posted 10 percent of a $250,000 bond. But when he failed to show up for his arraignment Monday, Judge Richard Klaus issued a warrant for his arrest with a $1 million bond.
Sobolevskyte, Ali, Giorango and Kacerovskis were charged with two counts each of unlawful possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance.
Klaus set Giorango's bond at $100,000 and scheduled Giorango's next court appearance for March 19.
Sobolevskyte, Ali and Kacerovskis each asked for more time to hire an attorney.
Klaus set Sobolevskyte's bond at $150,000 and set bond for Ali and Kacerovskis at $100,000.
Each of them is scheduled to be in court with an attorney Feb. 20.