Today, U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold announced that the Office of National Drug Control Policy has included Rock and Brown Counties to be designated as part of the Milwaukee High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). This comes after concern was raised about the increase in drug related arrests and heroin overdose deaths in Rock County last year, as well as a rise in violent crime. This new designation allows local law enforcement in these counties to work with Milwaukee HIDTA to target the drug problem and work to control drug trafficking and violence.
In October, Kohl and Feingold sent a letter to Michael Gottlieb the Acting Assistant Deputy Director at the Executive Office of the President Office of National Drug Control Policy urging the inclusion of Rock County as part of HIDTA.
"Milwaukee HIDTA has proven successful in the battle against the spread of drugs and drug-related crimes," Kohl said. "Unfortunately, we've begun to see these types of crimes spread to other areas. It's essential that Rock and Brown County law enforcement get the support HIDTA provides to help protect their communities from the grip of drugs and gangs."
"Over the last several years I have heard concerns from Wisconsin law enforcement officials about the disturbing increase in heroin-related deaths and crime in Rock and Brown counties," Feingold said. "This funding will be vital for Wisconsin law enforcement officials in Rock and Brown counties to combat this disturbing trend and keep our communities safe."
Rock County experienced at least 12 heroin overdose deaths last year and at least one provider had seen a 300% increase in the use of needle exchange programs. Additionally, EMS providers in the county had reported a 150% increase in the use of "Narcan," a drug used to counteract the dangerous effects of opiate narcotics, primarily heroin. Last year law enforcement authorities in Rock County reported that at least eight gangs had been identified as trafficking crack cocaine and/or heroin within the county and committed violent crimes in order to protect their drug operations.
Cocaine poses the greatest threat to Brown County because of its availability and the violent criminal activities associated with its distribution and use. Recently, it was discovered that a criminal drug organization had a well-established pipeline transporting cocaine and marijuana into Brown County from Mexico and the southwestern United States. Like many law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin, Brown County is reporting an increase in heroin. In September 2009, a Brown County jury convicted a 19 year old male for supplying the heroin that resulted in the death of a 17 year old male.