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Methamphetamine Cases In Northwestern Wisconsin Tripled In Last 3 Years

Polk County Sheriff: Meth Is Biggest Drug Problem In County, Causing Increase In Other Crimes

Kauai Police Department/AP Photo

In the last three years, the number of cases involving methamphetamine have tripled in a pocket of far northwestern Wisconsin.

In Polk County, 124 samples of the highly powerful and addictive stimulant were submitted to the state crime lab for analysis in criminal cases last year alone.

With the increase in meth has come an increase in crimes tied to it, including home burglaries, theft, and domestic violence and abuse, said Polk County Sheriff Peter Johnson.

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Much of the federal and state focus has shifted to fighting opioid abuse, Johnson said. But Gov. Scott Walker and other state officials aren’t forgetting about the biggest drug problem in Polk county — meth.

“They’re at least listening more,” Johnson said. “Everybody has financial issues to worry about, and the state is no different than the county, but at least they’re going out and attempting to find out what the real issues are.

Over the last few years, the state has seen a surge in heroin use and prescription drug abuse, but busts of meth rings and shake-and-bake meth labs have been making headlines more and more in Wisconsin.

The number of meth labs in the United States has dropped in recent years since drugs from Mexico are cheaper and more plentiful, according to previous WPR reports. Authorities believe methamphetamine has moved from Mexico to Minneapolis then to northern Wisconsin.

Johnson said there’s no silver bullet to stop meth use, but his department has been focusing more on prevention.

Another county in the region is also taking a look at how to address meth use. Chippewa County has a series of town hall meetings on methamphetamine scheduled.