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Douglas County Law Enforcement Seizing More Heroin Than Ever

Heroin Seizures Climb More Than 450 Percent From 2011 To 2016

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Used heroin needles
Mel Evans/AP Photo

Law enforcement in Superior and Douglas County seized the most heroin they’ve ever seen last year.

Douglas County Sgt. Jim Madden said officers seized more than 460 grams of heroin in 2016, that’s more than a 450 percent increase from the little more than 1 gram of heroin in 2011.

“Which is sad, because it illustrates the problem that we have,” Madden said. “But, it also gives us hope that we’re doing something about it because somebody’s got to go out and get that heroin off the streets.”

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Madden said a team of five narcotics officers seized drugs last year with a street value of $547,946.

“You ask any one of my investigators, we’d all say the same thing: that we think we’re just getting the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

The increase in seizures stems from enforcement and purity levels of heroin, which is causing more people to become addicted to the drug right away, Madden said. The drug is also readily available, typically coming to the Twin Ports area from the Twin Cities and Chicago regions.

A report released earlier this month by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows the rate of heroin overdose deaths grew 880 percent between 2006 and 2015.

Madden added that Douglas County also had the most heroin submissions per capita to the state crime lab in 2016 and the third highest submissions per capita for methamphetamine.

“There’s not one other county that appears in the top 10 in either of these categories together. We’re in the top three, and we lead one of them,” he said. “We’d probably lead the other if we weren’t fighting the heroin epidemic so hard.”

Washington, Sheboygan, Wood and Fond du Lac counties rounded out the counties with the most state crime lab submissions per capita for heroin last year. The number of cases submitted to the state crime lab increased slightly from 1,142 cases in 2015 to 1,168 cases in 2016. Only a dozen counties did not submit heroin cases to the state’s crime lab last year. As for meth, the lab received 1,066 case submissions in 2015 and 1,075 case submissions last year.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story listed the number of heroin state crime lab cases in 2015 as 1,141 and cases in 2016 as 1,170. The figures have been updated to reflect numbers provided by the Wisconsin DOJ.

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