Wisconsin first took concerted action against methamphetamine six years ago. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that money was found to pay for education and enforcement, with agencies along the Mississippi and points east mobilizing to shut down the labs where meth was produced, and to disrupt supply lines. Wisconsin still has a much smaller meth problem than neighboring states. But the drug has established a beachhead, and sharp rises in other indicators of its presence have prompted new calls for action, such as a legislative task force and proposed laws to restrict legal ingredients for meth.
The number of reported meth incidents rose from 83 in 1999 to 314 in 2003. “It’s important to note that the problem remains one that is primarily a Twin Cities problem that spills into Wisconsin, primarily an Iowa problem that spills over into Wisconsin,” said Gov. Jim Doyle. The St. Croix jail, which five years ago was pulling in $1.7 million in profit renting space to other places, now is filled with home-grown inmates whose alleged crimes are almost all meth-related, at a cost of $1.6 million last year. “Up here, meth really has taken over everything,” said Dan Breymeier, head of the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department drug unit. “Quite frankly, if I get a coke case, or a heroin case, I’m happy.”