Authorities Hope Meth Ring Bust Puts Dent In Central Wisconsin Problem

19 People Found Guilty In Connection With Large-Scale Methamphetamine Trafficking Ring


Nineteen people have been found guilty in connection with a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking ring in central Wisconsin.

The three-year investigation has put an end to a supply chain that brought 127 pounds of meth, worth $5.7 million, into the region from the Twin Cities, according to John Vaudreuil, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.

The methamphetamine was sold in Wausau, Medford, Abbotsford, Owen, Athens, Eau Claire and Osseo, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Vaudreuil said the ring tried to flood the region with meth in order to get users addicted.

“Drug dealers at this level are businessmen,” Vaudreuil said. “Their business model was to get as much meth as they could, very, very pure meth, get it out there, and get increased demand. Now you’ve got people who are addicted and then you can control the price because they need your product so badly.”

U.S. District Judge James Peterson sentenced 14 of the traffickers to terms ranging from four and a half to 18 years in prison. Five are awaiting sentencing.

Peterson said the sentences were meant to send a message.

The 18-year sentence was handed down to 37-year-old Joe Kujawa of Oakdale, Minnesota.

At his sentencing hearing on March 3, Peterson told Kujawa he was responsible for distributing 2.3 million doses of methamphetamine, mostly in Lincoln and Marathon Counties, which have only 166,000 people between them. The judge said Kujawa took “the meth market to a new level in Lincoln County and Merrill.”

Vaudreuil said he hopes the convictions make a difference in the region.

“I hope they will send a message to suppliers that if you’re going to deal meth, don’t deal it in central Wisconsin,” he said.

But, he said, “these convictions will not help the users … I’m not naive. But eliminating this many dealers makes it harder for users to find the meth, and I’m hoping that in that time period they realize that’s not the way to live and they try and get some help.”