Wisconsin Public Radio

Federal Probe Charges 37 Drug Traffickers

Search warrants executed in Milwaukee, Puerto Rico result in seizure of larges stashes of drugs, guns and money.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jan 19th, 2020 08:51 am
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Early Jan. 15, 2020, federal, state and local law enforcement officers executed multiple search warrants for two separate drug trafficking cases in Milwaukee and Puerto Rico, seizing drugs, firearms and money. Photo by Alana Watson/WPR.

Early Jan. 15, 2020, federal, state and local law enforcement officers executed multiple search warrants for two separate drug trafficking cases in Milwaukee and Puerto Rico, seizing drugs, firearms and money. Photo by Alana Watson/WPR.

After investigating for over a year, the U.S. Department of Justice, with assistance from multiple law enforcement agencies, arrested and charged over two dozen people for trafficking drugs in the Milwaukee area.

Early Wednesday, federal, state and local law enforcement officers executed multiple search warrants for two separate drug trafficking cases in Milwaukee and Puerto Rico.

In the first case, 26 people were charged with trafficking cocaine, heroin and fentanyl from Puerto Rico to Milwaukee through the U.S. Postal Service.

The criminal complaint says dozens of drug shipments came through multiple post offices in the Milwaukee area and $1.3 million was sent back to Puerto Rico through the mail.

After executing the search warrants in Milwaukee and Puerto Rico, law enforcement seized approximately 15 kilograms of cocaine, at least 50 grams of heroin, at least 80 grams of crack-cocaine, 35 firearms and roughly $267,000.

According to Matthew D. Krueger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, 22 of the 26 defendants are currently in custody. He would not say if the remaining four were in Milwaukee or Puerto Rico.

Krueger said during a Thursday morning press conference that drug operations in communities promotes drug use, drug trafficking and gun violence. He said last year 370 people died of drug overdoes in Milwaukee County.

“This suffering is fueled by criminal organizations that exploit this suffering for their own profit,” Krueger said.

The defendants charged range in age from 23 to 51. They have been charged in federal court with trafficking at least five kilograms or more of cocaine as well as distributable quantities of heroin and fentanyl. They are also charged in money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

If the defendants are convicted they could face a minimum of 10 years in prison up to life in prison.

“I hope that this case sends a message,” Krueger said. “Drug traffickers should not think the U.S. mails are a safe way to distribute their poisons and we will be aggressive in building cases on individuals that use the mails to distribute drugs.”

In the second case, 11 people were charged with conspiracy to distribute 100 grams of more of heroin and 40 grams or more of fentanyl in the Milwaukee area.

Federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested 10 of the 11 defendants early Wednesday after seizing around 800 grams of black tar heroin, 200 grams of fentanyl and one firearm.

If convicted, each defendant could face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in person.

“So this is not just a case that results in significant improvement in the fight against the supply of drugs to Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said at Thursday’s press conference. “It’s also a case that’s going to make our communities safer from gun violence.”

Between both cases, 300 law enforcement agents served search warrants on the south side of Milwaukee and Puerto Rico. No one was hurt during the execution of the warrants. The investigations that started in September 2018 were led by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In the first case, the North Central High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Division of Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Milwaukee Police Department and the City of New Berlin Police Department all played a role in the investigation.

In the second case, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the City of Kenosha Police Department, the City of Greenfield Police Department and the City of West Allis Police Department assisted in the investigation.

“This is an era where are partners, law enforcement and the cities and counties of the state of Wisconsin, along with our federal partners are working together,” Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said Thursday. “That’s important. The city of Milwaukee should be proud, the community should be proud that we are working together and getting things accomplished.”

Both cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys.

Listen to the WPR report.

37 People Charged in Federal Court for Wisconsin Drug Trafficking was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

One thought on “Federal Probe Charges 37 Drug Traffickers”

  1. Paul Mozina says:

    Don’t be fooled by this Drug War propaganda. The War on Drugs is worse than a failure. It is the illegitimate prohibition of certain “controlled substances” that fuels the violence, crime, overdoses and mass concentrated incarceration. When, where, how and why did any of us give up our natural right to be the masters of our own bodies to the government? Does anyone really think that our infamous “founding fathers” intended that the written instrument they called the constitution would be used by the government to control what people put in their bodies? Does anyone think that “we the people” would have supported the constitution if they thought it would be used as an instrument for their own enslavement and to control what they put in their bodies? Can the people delegate to a government rights that they themselves do not possess i.e., the “right” to control what another person consumes?

    The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program has totally failed to achieve any of the 7 goals that former president Obama gave it back in 2011. Rather, it measures its “success” by ludicrous measures like Return On Investment Cash and Return On Investment Drugs, which the Department of Administration reports are 75:1. What bureaucrat would oppose a program that returns $75 for every $1 invested? HIDTA also measures its success by counting Drug Trafficking Organizations Disrupted (DTO’s). But for every DTO “disrupted” there are others waiting to fill the gap. The way HIDTA measures its success is akin to way the military measured its success in Vietnam — body counts.

    Who are they trying to kid? Does the DEA, FBI, CIA, and all of their law enforcement partners really think they can stop people from shipping “controlled substances” in the mail?

    It’s time for a different approach. How about teaching young people from the time they able to understand that they are responsible for what they put in their bodies — that they are indeed the masters of their own bodies? Teach them about dangerous substances just like we teach them about dangerous traffic, fire, guns, predators and everything else. But we don’t do that. As soon as children enter school we start to evaluate, label and drug them. Then when they get a little older, we teach them that if they consume certain “controlled substances” they will be put in a cage. We perpetually infantilize the people. You are NEVER old enough, or mature enough, or educated enough in this country to freely decide what you want to put in your body!

    And how many overdose deaths occurred as a result of this gang distributing fentanyl to unsuspecting consumers over the course of the year long investigation? Why are the people denied their natural right to self-medicate? Why are we unable to purchase heroin, cocaine and other substances from sources that provide known purity and dosage? Because controlling what people put in their bodies empowers the government to violate our natural rights and opens the door to a host of other abuses of our liberties.

    The hypocrisy of the War on Drugs is stunning. Afghanistan currently produces 90% of the worlds heroin/opium under the watchful gaze of the U.S. military. The CIA partnered with the CONTRAs to import cocaine into South LA fueling the Crack Cocaine epidemic. Big pharmaceutical companies peddle opioids without informing people of the risks of addiction and the DEA has failed for years to prosecute doctors who illegally prescribe and “pump pills on the street”.

    Don’t fall for this crap and think that this recent bust represents progress or success.

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