Major meth bust leads to 10 arrests, authorities still looking for others

Authorities say drug investigation pulled hundreds of pounds of meth off the streets

A year-long investigation in the La Crosse area helped get hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine off the streets and put a major dent in the drug trade, authorities said.

A group of suspected drug dealers is behind bars after the investigation by multiple local law enforcement agencies.

Their most recent push has put a hole in the drug operation locally but the fight is far from over, authorities say.

“We are dealing with hundreds, literally hundreds of pounds of meth,” said Tom Johnson, the investigative coordinator with the West Central Metropolitan Enforcement Group, or MEG.

Johnson said the importation of high-grade meth is on the rise throughout the Coulee Region.

“We have information that certain people have been traveling to the twin cities two or three days a week and bringing back a pound of meth on each trip,” said Johnson.

“So you can imagine how much meth is being distributed here in the five-county area,” said Sheriff Steve Helgeson with the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department.

Law enforcement officials said it’s a never-ending battle but they are hoping their most recent efforts have made a big impact.

“I think we’ve taken a pretty good bite out of it,” said Johnson.

On Tuesday, the MEG unit announced it has been involved in a multi-jurisdictional conspiracy investigation for the past year.

“We decided as a MEG unit, or drug task force, we would start working to take down some of the larger dealers and do what we could to stop the amount of meth coming into the county,” said Helgeson.

After gather information and spending hours and hours on surveillance, the MEG Unit has charged 17 people with conspiring with others to deliver meth in the amount greater than 50 grams.

“As what happened here was, people were buying meth directly from Mexican cartel so we are talking top of the food chain,” said Helgeson.

“These are people who were running the enterprise and moving the most amount of product from cities to the area,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the war on drugs is far from over but he likes to think they’ve disrupted the network to some degree.

“We do daily battles and these are the type of battles we want to win,” said Johnson.

Of the 17 people targeted in this investigation, 10 of them are in custody.

Now authorities are asking for your help in locating the seven individuals still on the run: Adam P. Vang, Ia Vang, Jacob A. Porath, Jennifer Rondeau-Wilbur, John P. Vang, Kojoua Vu and Sam J. Lestina.

Authorities ask that if you have any information about where they might be, contact the Crime Stoppers in your community.