Meth Problem in Wisconsin Just Won’t Go Away
Meth aside, Wisconsin is no stranger to substance use in general. For one thing, it’s home to at least 100 breweries (which in of itself doesn’t necessary mean a lot, since Michigan now has 150) but it’s also #1 in the U.S. in terms of alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and heavy drinkers.
Also, like much of the country, Wisconsin is also experiencing a heroin epidemic, borne from the prescription painkiller boom that began in the 1990s. As for marijuana – well, it’s not legalized any aspect of it, and law enforcement are apparently still busy taking down growers and dealers.
In any case, it should come as no surprise that Wisconsin is still in the middle of a sizable meth problem. Much of the meth produced in Wisconsin has been coming out of rural areas, specifically in the northwestern portion of the state. However, the problem has begun spreading throughout the south and east, and has been seen increasingly in urban areas, such as Milwaukee.
As far as meth entering the state, it seems to originating in Mexico (surprise, surprise) and finding its way to WI after passing through California and other southwest states. And a good deal of it is probably coming through channels from next door neighbor, Minnesota.
While most of the meth trafficked around The Badger State is produced outside, Wisconsin has had its share of meth labs, as well.But at least until recently, the number of meth labs had been steadily declining – either that, or manufacturers were temporarily getting better at hiding them.
More than likely, however, the decrease was due to the crackdown on the sale of pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in meth. Basically, would-be manufacturers had to get things sorted out. And eventually, they did.
In 2006, 27 labs were brought down, which was over a 50% reduction from the previous year. However by 2014, the number of labs uncovered was back up to over 50. It’s been said that there has been a reduction in large-scale labs, but smaller ones are thriving.
Meth seizures by the Brown County Drug Task Force increased by a staggering 3000% between 2013-2015. The agency confiscated 41 grams of meth in 2013, compared to 1,268 grams in 2015. Cases processed by the state’s crime lab have tripled since 2008, resulting in 920 in 2014.
The street value of meth has declined from around $400 per gram 4 years ago to about $100 a gram currently.
Big Drug Ring Recently Dismantled
In recent and very relevant news, just this past week 38 people were arrested (35 booked) into Brown County (home of Green Bay) after being busted following a 7-month investigation.
Authorities say 38 people were arrested and 35 booked into Brown County Jail after a seven-month methamphetamine investigation involving multiple police agencies in several counties. The Sheriff’s department hasn’t released many details, yet, but a few facts are known.
The Brown County Task Force collaborated with the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to make the arrests. Other agencies involved include the Green Bay and De Pere police departments, Ashwaubenon Public Safety, Lake Winnebago Area MEG Unit, the Wisconsin State Patrol and SWAT teams.
All in all, 20 search warrants were served, the majority (14) in Green Bay. There were also one warrant a piece served in each Oconto and Kewaunee counties. The drug ring leader was among those arrested but has not yet been identified. As part of the investigation, police seized over 882 grams of meth worth over $88,000 since last January.
The drug appeared to be coming from large-scale labs in Mexico, smuggled into the U.S., and delivered to the Green Bay-based organization through other drug rings in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. The meth was being distributed throughout several northeastern Wisconsin counties.
In addition to meth, over 8000 grams of marijuana, as well as other drugs, including cocaine, heroin, magic mushrooms, and prescription painkillers were confiscated.
In circuit court, the highest bond was set at $500,000 for Bill Yang, 35. Abel Soung, 31, and Daniel Adams, 41, had next highest bonds set at $300,000 and $250,000, respectively.
Attorney General Brad Schimel:
“Wisconsin residents can sleep more easily at night knowing justice is being served to the dozens of criminals who have been trafficking deadly drugs throughout the northeastern part of our state.”
It’s great when progress is made against the drug smugglers and distribution rings, but unfortunately, it doesn’t solve the problem of demand. As long as there is demand, these groups will keep springing up, one after another, to fill the void. Demand can only be reduced through education and community efforts.
Also, in this situation, bringing down a big import ring like this could lead to more local labs popping up. While meth is a scourge itself, having more labs compromises the safety of the community, and those who live around areas in which meth is being manufactured.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology
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