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Fentanyl seized by local police department enough for 71,000 lethal doses

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 6:24 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -

Up to 71,000 overdoses may have been prevented by the La Crosse Police Department after investigations led to the seizure of large amounts of drugs.

In two recent investigations the La Crosse Police Department seized more than 140 grams of Fentanyl, $20,000 dollars in cash and arrested five people.

Gundersen Health System says getting Fentanyl off the streets is a win.

“Fentanyl is a synthetic-opioid and is much stronger than Heroin,”said Dr. Chris Eberlein, a Gundersen emergency medicine physician. “In fact it’s about 100 times as strong as Heroin and we’ve been seeing an increase in Fentanyl as a cause of fatal overdose in our community over the last several years.”

Eberlein says in all of 2019 there were 19 overdose deaths in La Crosse County.

As of August 30, there are already 27 overdose deaths this year.

Last week, police officers responded to seven overdose calls— five resulting in death .

To help get the drug off the street, the police department is doing controlled buys.

“These investigations do take some time because obviously these for-profit dealers aren’t going to sell directly to police,” said Sgt. Tom Walsh of the La Crosse Police Department. “We have to conduct our investigations utilizing informants.”

In total, 142.2 grams of Fentanyl was seized, which according to Gundersen Health System is 71,000 lethal doses.

Two of the arrests made on September 2 were familiar faces to the police department— Lavon Liggins and Brittany Basley were also arrested in 2019 for dealing drugs and out on felony bonds.

“These aren’t people who are new to our court system,” Walsh added. “They are people who are doing this for profit, they are selling this poison in our communities. It’s certainly having a negative impact on our way of life here in the City of La Crosse, so hopefully our courts will take this seriously.”

Liggins appeared in court last week, his cash bond is set at $150,000.

Those struggling with addiction can call 211 or your local physician to learn more about available resources.

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