Using K-9 units to track down illegal drug transportation in Wisconsin

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — Interstates across the United States are used to transport illegal drugs throughout the country every day. Our region sees two of those interstates cross at I-94 and I-90.

Every day, officers across the state collaborate to take down drug operations. The West Central MEG group in our region connects area counties; the state patrol plays a vital role on the nation’s interstates.

“The drug market has gone through the roof since COVID hit. So our interstates are a huge corridor for drug trafficking,” said Cody Digre, a Wisconsin state trooper. “They are travelling 24/7, whether to or from, and we’re trying to keep up with that as well.”

As the trade evolves, officers have to be smarter.

“The troopers are well-trained. We send them to ongoing training throughout their career to find those indicators of criminal activity,” said Lt. Nate Clarke.

That is the work of state trooper Cody Digre and his K-9 Koda.

“It’s really cool to see them work. Just to get him out, and run him around a vehicle or whatever it may be,” Digre said.

Koda is a trained narcotics dog. Digre works with Koda to identify suspicious activity and track down illegal drugs.

But the work doesn’t end at the traffic stop.

“It’s really a partnership between all law enforcement agencies. Not one agency can go at it alone—we all have our roles to play,” Clarke said.

Digre works with officers across the state and the country and the area MEG unit.

“We work with a lot of these agencies and our federal partners as well, to get these larger seizures and quantities of drugs off the roads,” Digre said.

Not every stop is a drug bust.

“You just kind of learn to pick up on behaviors that people are involved in things they shouldn’t be,” Digre said.

Digre says the interception work is rewarding.

“I don’t want to see our future community and kids being brought into this bad stuff. Hopefully, we can make a difference—that they have a good, fulfilling life and won’t have to worry about all these issues,” Digre said.

But he knows there is still work to do.

Digre says that the patrol is primarily focused on harder drugs– like meth and fentanyl. Those have been on the rise in recent years.

Koda is the only state patrol dog in this area, but Digre says there are seven narcotics dog teams throughout the state.