May 27, 2016
Contact: Special Agent Sharon Santiago
Phone Number: (312) 353-0442
DEA 360 Degree Strategy Partnerships Target Violent Drug Traffickers And Gang Members In Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE - Operation “Smack” down, begun in March and led by the Drug Enforcement (DEA) in partnership with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies targeted violent drug traffickers and gang members in an effort to reduce the availability of heroin, or “smack,” and prescription opiates. Sales of these drugs fuel addiction and violence in Milwaukee and other communities in Southeast Wisconsin.
The operation was part of DEA’s 360 Degree Strategy, launched earlier this year in partnership with Milwaukee community, political, federal and local law enforcement leaders, medical professionals, substance abuse prevention and treatment experts. The strategy is comprised of a three-pillared approach - Enforcement, Diversion Control and Community Outreach - designed to fight drug trafficking, stem abuse and attenuate violence.
Operation “Smack” down culminated in mid-May with the execution of 27 search warrants and resulted in approximately 110 felony arrests, the seizure of 45 firearms, three ballistic vests in Milwaukee and other Southeast Wisconsin communities. Investigators seized over 425 grams of heroin, 600 grams of cocaine, and 2000 diverted prescription opiate pills. In the City of Milwaukee alone, about 46 arrests were made and 38 of the 45 firearms were seized.
Milwaukee Police Department Captain Jeffery Micklitz related his concerns that heroin and opiate addiction affect every segment of our society. “The Milwaukee Police Department takes the heroin and opiate epidemic very seriously, focusing on saving lives and reducing the crimes associated with drug distribution and addiction,” said Micklitz. “Our partnerships with community leaders, medical professionals and law enforcement, created through the DEA 360 Strategy, have resulted in a new and combined focus that is certain to positively impact the people most affected by this health and safety issue.”
Almost all of those caught selling highly-addictive heroin and other opiates will be charged by the Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office or district attorneys’ offices in surrounding counties.
Evidence gained during the operation also cleared three open, heroin overdose death investigations, the arrest of six suspects and the seizure of a quantity of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate many times more potent and deadly than heroin.
“Some people selling opiates and heroin struggle with their own addiction challenges, but this does not give a license to peddle ‘poison’ that causes addiction or death to others in our communities,” said DEA Milwaukee Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Bell. “We want everyone who needs help, to get help - but if you are distributing dangerous substances and perpetuating violence, help may come through the criminal justice system.”
Investigators distributed pamphlets, developed by the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, to defendants with addiction problems and to their family members. Along with information for those seeking assistance or treatment, the pamphlets contained phone hotline numbers and counseling information. Some defendants arrested during the law enforcement operation may be candidates for court ordered treatment when circumstances meet state provisions.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm commended the collaborative efforts of local, state and federal partners. “Opiate addiction is destroying the lives of our fellow citizens and their families,” said Chisholm. “We are committed to addressing the crisis by holding drug dealers accountable while at the same time providing opportunities for treatment and recovery for the addicted.”
The DEA encourages those seeking help to contact the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Helpline at 855-378-4373 or online at www.drugfree.org and the SAMSHA 24/7 Helpline at 800-662-4357 or via its link at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.
Law enforcement agencies that worked on this initiative included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Greenfield PD, Milwaukee Police Department, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department / Kenosha Drug Operations Group, Kenosha Police Department, Oak Creek Police Department, Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department / Ozaukee County Anti-Drug Task Force, Racine County Sheriff’s Department / Racine County Metro Drug Unit, Racine Police Department, Walworth County Sheriff’s Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department / Waukesha County Metro Drug Unit, Waukesha Police Department, Wauwatosa Police Department and West Allis Police Department.