Heroin spreading rapidly: Special agents prepare for it to move into Eau Claire

By: Mary Rinzel Email
By: Mary Rinzel Email

A warning from the Department of Justice: Heroin is heading our way.

The DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) uses the state crime lab as a barometer of sorts to monitor drug cases. In 2005, 155 total heroin cases went through the state lab. Just last month, there were 42 cases.

So far, DCI is not dealing with any cases in Eau Claire. But, heroin did show up recently in a traffic stop near La Crosse. For now, DCI agents are in preventative mode. They want to get the word out that heroin is a highly addictive and deadly drug.

Every day, officers wage a war on drugs. In our area, they find cocaine and pot growing operations. For a while meth was the drug of choice. But, what was once seen as back ally, seedy drug is now making a comeback as chic.

Heroin is "a drug you don't even want to do once. It will reach up and grab a hold of you and control your life," says DCI Special Agent in Charge Jed Sperry.

Sperry says users will shoot up three times a day. They spend their lives in a daze, nodding in and out of consciousness. Their biggest fear is coming down from that high. Withdrawal is described as 20 times worse than your worse bout of the flu. It’s so bad, heroin users remain permanently high.

Sperry says heroin use in Wisconsin exploded in Milwaukee about four or five years ago. It's now moved into Madison.

"A year, year and a half from now, I would not be surprised if you interview me and the main concern (in western Wisconsin) is heroin," he says.

So, what's behind rapid spread?

Sperry says one reason is the fact that prescription drugs are now the second most abused drug in the U.S. Because many are opium based, the jump to heroin is an easy one.

He says heroin has also changed. It's become purer and can be snorted. But, give a user six months and Sperry says they'll move on to needles.

But, he says maybe the biggest problem is the fact that heroin is so incredibly addictive.

"People say try it once and you're going to get hooked," Sperry says.

He says when a dealer moves into an area, they'll often even give heroin away for free. It that's addicting. Now, DCI is working a proactive approach—getting the word out that heroin is coming and it's nothing to mess around with.

Sperry says "when people get hooked on heroin, only two things can get them off it: Treatment or death.”

If you want to get a hold of the DCI, you can call the confidential tip line at 1-800-622-3784.

If schools are interested in heroin awareness training they can contact Jed Sperry at (715) 839-3830.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by jeff Location: e.c. on May 20, 2011 at 02:04 PM
    if you have a substance abuse problem, the cops will be more than happy to trash your home, shoot your pet, and throw you in jail... for your own good.
  • by N on Aug 16, 2009 at 01:40 PM
    My brother has a genius IQ too. The addiction lead to disability payments and a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenic. Couldnt even hold a job as a taxi driver. He talks the same logic Philo does. What a waste.
  • by Sam Location: Wet Durand on Aug 15, 2009 at 10:26 PM
    Anon., We don't have to waste money on the death penalty, they will kill themselves if wer do not treat any illness they may have if they come in seeking medical attention. Legalize all drugs, but make a list of the ones that if you have in your system when sick, your screwed. No more black market crime, no more billions fighting a dangerous and useless drug war. If you are dumb enough to even try these substances, your a fool and I want you out of the gene pool. Sooner or later a user will get sick, then they will die. No ER visits, no disability money, etc. If you want to use these drugs, better be prepared to be able to support yourself and pray for good health. Tough love, works.
  • by Will on Aug 15, 2009 at 04:30 PM
    Hey, Why stop at killing people for using black market products! Why don't you kill everyone who has ever drank booze or coffee, throw in the adulterers, hypocrites and anyone who may not be just like you!
  • by Philo Location: Eau Claire on Aug 15, 2009 at 04:26 PM
    Nick, you are a literary master. Look up NORML, MPP, LEAP, or DPA, learn the Truth about the war on drugs before projecting your own deficiencies upon someone else. As one who actually has a genius IQ, I am well aware of how unaware most people are, and aware that despite they're unawareness, they believe themselves aware of what they are obviously not aware of. The story above is a great example of how unaware most are about what happens right next door every single day. Some of your friends or family members could be heroin addicts and you don't even know it. It's far more likely that they would be addicted to prescription medications (synthetic opiates or derivatives.) Fortunately, more and more are realizing (probably because it's now hitting home) that locking people up and treating them like murderers is not what a free and civilized people should be doing to others who have a medical condition. Treat them like patients, by their own will, otherwise, leave them alone.
  • by Anonymous Location: Eau Claire on Aug 14, 2009 at 12:59 PM
    Is our local law enforcement this naive or uninformed? As a therapist, I've been treating patients with addictions to heroin for over a decade! It is, and has been, in the area. Maybe that's why this country seems to be losing the "battle" against drugs - too many people assigned to take on the task while wearing blinders.
  • by Gary Location: ec on Aug 14, 2009 at 10:13 AM
    The drug has been here for a while. Some users are not the evil dazed people DCI would have you believe. Some have jobs, families, go to church and donate to charity. We love to hate hate somebody and the user DCI portrays is easier to hate. Until you open your eyes and realize it is part hoax to grab power and money by the boys in blue. The more people are scared, the easier the tax collectors have it.
  • by Nick Location: Chippewa Falls on Aug 13, 2009 at 07:10 PM
    Philo. You're dumb.
  • by DJ Jones Location: EC on Aug 13, 2009 at 05:47 PM
    CJ I totally agree.. There are so many drugs in EC it's ungodly.. I-94 from MLPS to EC, as well as running it to the MILL (millwaukee).. straight pipeline for drugs.. EC's drug problem has been a problem ever since I was in kindergarden...
  • by Philo Location: Eau Claire on Aug 13, 2009 at 04:57 PM
    Wow. Leave it to "Anonymous" to be the voice of reason and compassion once again. A Georgia lawmaker just proposed the same thing recently. Do you have an opinion of your own, or do you just parrot the things you hear from tyrants? End the war on drugs, and you'll see a rapid decline in drug related crimes. Drug use itself is not, and cannot be rationally described as a crime, however the abuses committed in the name of prohibition of certain drugs ARE crimes. Doctors across America get people hooked on legal opiates in far greater numbers than all the heroin dealers combined, yet we don't lock them up or propose killing them. Anon., America deserves better than you...
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