NEW INFORMATION: Police say marijuana brought to Chippewa Valley, sold through network of drug dealers

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (EAU CLAIRE POLICE DEPARTMENT NEWS RELEASE) -- Members of the West Central Drug Task Force, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice - Division of Criminal Investigation conducted a year-long investigation into large-scale distribution of marijuana and other dangerous drugs in our area. As a result of this investigation five people were indicted by a federal grand jury on December 7, 2016 in the United States Western District Court of Wisconsin in Madison.

The indicted people are Blake H. Handrick, Joseph J. Cicione (not pictured), Jason E. Weller, Steven B. Falstad and Chad Peterson. The indictments were for various felony charges related to a marijuana conspiracy that these individuals had been involved with for over two years.

Handrick and Cicione worked together to start and operate a legal marijuana growing facility in the State of Washington. Legally grown marijuana from that facility as well as other sources in the western part of the United States, was illegally transported to the Chippewa Valley where it was split up and sold illegally through a network of local drug dealers. That network of drug sellers included Falstad, Weller and Peterson. In total, the group was responsible for the distribution of several hundred pounds of marijuana and other drugs in the City of Eau Claire and surrounding communities.

Throughout the investigation, dozens of individuals were interviewed and provided information related to this
organization. The individuals indicted on December 7, 2016 represent a small number of the people involved in this
network. These indictments are the first round of those to be charged in this investigation. The investigation will
continue and several more individuals are expected to be charged in State and Federal Courts as a result of this

In addition to the distribution of marijuana, individuals involved in this case have been distributing cocaine and
methamphetamine. This investigation has opened up several other separate investigations into those activities.

The West Central Drug Task Force is comprised of investigators from 17 area law enforcement agencies who
proactively work together to combat drug abuse and drug-related crime in the region. Each WCDTF member agency
made significant contributions to this successful investigation. The member agencies of the WCDTF are:

Altoona Police Department
Menomonie Police Department
Bloomer Police Department
Dunn County Sheriff’s Office
Pepin County Sheriff’s Office
Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office
Durand Police Department
UW-Eau Claire Police Department
Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office
Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office
UW-Stout Police Department
Chippewa Falls Police Department
Eau Claire Police Department

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