Crime

UPDATE: 16 people now arrested in year-long drug investigation

Year-long drug investigation leads to...

VIROQUA, Wis. (WKBT) - More arrests have been made in the year-long drug investigation in Vernon County, bringing the total number of people in custody to 16.

Arrests made in the last 24 hours include Daniel L. Ames of Viroqua, John Haggerty of Desoto and Jeremy A. Gudgeon of La Farge.

Investigators say all 16 arrested are part of what they're calling a large-scale
Methamphetamine conspiracy and more arrests are still likely.

What began with undercover, controlled purchases of meth, heroin and prescription drugs one year ago, lead to the drug-related arrests made in Vernon County, Crawford County and La Crosse County.

"Society is so mobile, these drug investigations can lead from right here in Viroqua, in Vernon County, and an hour later you're in La Crosse, Holmen, Onalaska, Madison," said John Spears with the Vernon County Sheriff's Department.

But this on-going drug battle law enforcement officials across the nation are dealing with on a daily basis, is indicative of the drug-abuse we are seeing right here in our own backyards.

"Something needs to be done, something aggressive from education to enforcement. to therapy and counseling, and all of these things combined to stop it because it just doesn't end with an arrest, put it that way," Spears said.

La Crosse County sheriff's department investigators say while they are tracking down more drug dealers, it's also important to focus on the users, who are often motivated by multiple things.

"We have to work as a collaborative effort to try and get them the help to try and reduce the demand, we reduce the demand, we put pressure on the traffickers and hopefully we can hit a happy medium there somewhere in the middle," said Tom Johnson, investigative coordinator with the West Central Meg Unit.

Johnson said this drug bust sends an important message.

"The mobility of these drug traffickers in terms of social media, ability to travel and connections, have spread out but yet the world has become such a smaller place that we need to spread out with them and work together in more of a collaborative effort," he said.

Vernon County Sheriffs say this is the largest drug bust in ten years and they are anticipating at least 15 more arrests.

However it's not the biggest one. They say they netted 25 to 30 drug dealers in the past which they say is the number they may reach in this investigation.

They also said the investigation consisted of multiple buys on one person in order to confirm that they are dealing and it's not just a one-time case.

Investigators are urging anyone with information about illegal drug activity to contact police.

PREVIOUS STORY:

A year-long drug investigation leads to the arrests of more than a dozen people in Vernon County.

The Vernon County Sheriff's Department, La Farge Police Department, and West Central MEG Unit were a part of the investigation to break up what they call a large-scale methamphetamine conspiracy.

A total of 13 people were arrested after dozens of drug sales were made to multiple informants and undercover investigators.

The Vernon County Sheriff's Department says the investigation is still ongoing and they expect more arrests to be made.


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