“Suddenly” Dane County Has a Heroin Problem? Five Overdose Deaths Reported in January
From Channel 3000 in Madison:
MADISON, Wis. — City and county leaders met Wednesday to begin formulating a plan to deal with the growing problem of heroin.
Dane County reported 125 cases of heroin- or opiate-related overdoses last year. Eighteen people died. And just 41 days into the new year there have been 14 heroin-related overdoses and five deaths in the county.
City and county leaders are taking action and calling on the community to help.
“If we’re going to get ahead of the problem we need to deal with it comprehensibly. We need to deal with it as a public health issue. We have to do some public education so people understand how serious a drug this is,” said Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.
The mayor met with city and county law enforcement and health officials Wednesday to talk about developing a comprehensive plan to combat this increasing problem through more education and resources to help people stop.
Authorities said one of the most concerning trends is the number of teens abusing prescription drugs and using heroin.
Some young Madison residents said they’ve seen the drug grow in popularity.
“People that I know who were addicted to OxyContin are now [on] heroin,” said Casey Miller.
“OxyContin is really expensive so they would go to a cheaper drug and mostly shooting it because that’s even cheaper than snorting it,” said Casie Schuppe.
This is beginning to sound like a broken record. It isn’t black and Latino kids getting hooked, it’s white youths and adults becoming addicted in cities, townships and suburbs between Milwaukee and Madison; between Chicago and Madison. And yet the same kind of sluggishness and inertia seems to stymie real prevention and interdiction. Check this little piece in May 2009 from The Isthmus:
UP: Heroin. Smack is back. The Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force reports that 14 local people died of heroin overdoses in 2008, up from just four such deaths in 2005 and 2006 and eight in 2007. Last year, the drug accounted for 77% of all local overdose deaths, compared to 38% the year before. These figures, of course, do not include deaths from drinking too much alcohol.
Once again, the authorities will get together, tut-tut, profile witnesses, activists and themselves in front of the media, and do nearly nothing. I’m wondering whether it has to do with the trafficking contributing to the moribund economy here. I know that it takes time for education and rehabilitation to do its work, especially among the young, but even when it’s hard times, people unaccountably begin to crave the stuff.
Last year, in June, I wrote a story about some kids gone wrong before summer had even begun. In the second instance, three teens from nearby Milton in Rock County nearly overdosed on heroin after snorting the stuff in a nearby park. A former addict was able to revive them before they suffered any fatal effects. An adult user, Lori Bone, was later apprehended after she fled to Michigan. Eleven deaths in 13 months had been linked to heroin in Rock County.
A little over two weeks ago, a sixteen-year-old from Mount Horeb who had recently transferred to a West Side high school in Madison, died of an overdose. Though the youth’s name has not been disclosed, he’s considered to be the youngest overdose victim in two years.
In 2009, there were 18 overdose deaths in the county for the whole year, nine from heroin. The year before there were 19.
A drug overdose is suspected, [Sgt. Gordy] Disch said, although officials are awaiting toxicology reports to confirm what, if any, drug caused the teen’s death.
Countywide, officials have reported a marked increase in heroin use, heroin trafficking and people overdosing on the drug.
“We’re seeing a significant increase in the age group between 15 and 21 that are using, abusing and overdosing,” Disch said. “Heroin is very cheap and it’s readily available almost anywhere in Dane County.”
Disch said a tenth of a gram of heroin is going for about $20, and “that tenth of a gram is enough to kill them if they don’t know what they’re doing.”
It’s been coming towards Madison from Milwaukee for quite a while. All the dealers need to do is take the freeway and it’s in Dane County. And just who are they?
Heroin has always had a presence in southeastern Wisconsin, [[…] special agent in charge of the drug-focused REACT Initiative for the Wisconsin Department of Justice David] Spakowicz says, and there have always been some hard-core users in the area.
But things changed in the 1990s, when Colombian cocaine traffickers saw the profits that Asian producers were making on heroin, primarily China White.
So the Colombians began cultivating their own poppies and moving the resulting heroin to the United States, targeting East Coast cities such as New York, Boston and Baltimore.
“The eastern United States just got hammered,” Spakowicz says.
That was the source of most of Milwaukee’s heroin. Now, though, Chicago is supplying the “vast majority” of Wisconsin’s users. That proximity makes distribution easier in southeastern Wisconsin. Instead of taking risky trips to New York or Florida to bring back large amounts of heroin, a couple of guys can make a quick run to Chicago, score a smaller amount of heroin, and bring it back to Milwaukee to deal it here. From Milwaukee, heroin has flowed to its suburbs, surrounding counties, the Fox Valley and into Dane County.
“The supply is there, and the demand is there, too,” says Lt. Keith Balash of the Milwaukee Police Department’s vice squad.
It’s been two years since the above-quoted article was published at Express Milwaukee.com, but I doubt whether many of the players have changed very much. Indeed the 2009 Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Drug Market Analysis shows the following:
Dominican and Nigerian traffickers transport wholesale quantities of heroin and powder cocaine to the HIDTA region from Chicago. Prior to 2005 heroin traffickers in New York, New York, and Boston, Massachusetts, supplied much of the heroin available in the region; however, increased availability of, and competitive prices for, heroin in Chicago contributed to a shift in heroin supply from sources on the East Coast to sources based in Chicago. Nearly all of the heroin available in the area now originates in Colombia. Most heroin transits the U.S.-Mexico border en route to Chicago for eventual distribution in Milwaukee; however, law enforcement officials report that some heroin traffickers are transporting heroin from Mexico to Canada and then to Chicago. Dominican and Nigerian drug traffickers in Chicago typically supply heroin to Hispanic dealers, primarily Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, on the south side of Milwaukee and African American dealers on the north side of the city.
So if they know how it is being brought here, why is it that they don’t they know yet how to stop it?