Children caught in the middle of drug busts

Children caught in the middle of drug...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - A drug bust on Tuesday at the Candlewood Suites in La Crosse was a familiar scene for investigators with the La Crosse County Sheriff's department.

News 8 reported Wednesday about one of the largest meth busts in La Crosse's history.

When law enforcement officers deal with drug busts, they often find children who end up getting caught up in the middle.

Tuesday's drug bust is a good example of how much more challenging these types of  investigations can get, when children are involved.

Investigators found a 4-month-old child during the drug bust, something they say is pretty common.

La Crosse County Sheriff's Department investigator Fritz Leinfelder says as drug use has evolved, so has the number of children who end up caught in the middle of arrests.

"With Heroin, Fentanyl cases all these things that are highly dangerous to adults law enforcement, let alone a child that's placed in that environment."

Leinfelder says the job already has its challenges, but when children are in the mix, the job becomes more tricky.

"We're knocking the door down and when you see a child in that environment there is a sense of urgency that comes upon us that you know we need to make sure that we can get this child out of this environment rapidly because we don't know for one, for safety concerns when we're doing search warrants, we might have armed people in the house and now we have a child there so the urgency level definitely rises when we have those situations."

Agencies like Child Protective Services are typically called to determine if the child should be turned over to another family member, or sent to foster care.

Leinfelder says although it's not the most ideal situation, it's often best for the children. 

"When we're able to do that, we're able to take those children and get them out of the environment a little bit faster than they probably were in the past."

Leinfelder also says there is a Drug Endangered Children Team that gets involved in situations like these.

It's a team made up of social workers who try and figure out where the best places are for children to go when they involuntarily become a part of drug busts.

The child found at Tuesday's drug bust was taken into child protective services following the arrest.


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