Waukesha Sheriff Eric Severson told a U.S. Senate committee this week that the lion's share of controlled substances claiming lives in southeastern Wisconsin are sourced south of the U.S.-Mexico border and easily pass across it, particularly heroin. He also blamed the resulting drug trade for other crimes occurring in the region, including mobile drug operations and carjackings.
From 2006 to 2015, the number of fatal heroin overdoses in Wisconsin increased 880%. In Waukesha County, Severson said 387 residents have died of controlled drug overdoses deaths during the past decade, with heroin and opioid pharmaceuticals being the chief threat.
"Heroin consumed in my community was transported through the southern border, in its entirety. Today today, Mexican drug cartels are growing poppy plants to manufacture locally-produced heroin, making Mexico a source country for heroin for the United States," Severson testified.
Yet, the sheriff claimed other dangerous substances are also arriving via the southern border.
"Methamphetamine is an emerging drug threat in Wisconsin, and 95% of the meth in Wisconsin comes from Mexico.
"Fentanyl, an adulterant often added to heroin has increase the lethality of heroin, and we now see fentanyl as yet another illicit drug entering the United States through the southern border," Severson said.
Among the violent crimes the sheriff associated with the resulting drug trafficking business - robberies, home invasions, burglaries and thefts - he called them all byproducts of drug users seeking the resources to fuel their addiction. When it comes to the dealers, the sheriff said they pose dangerous realities for law enforcement officers.
"One example of this, is the growing use of mobile drug crews. These dealers sell heroin from stolen vehicles that are often car-jacked at gun point and will evade apprehension by recklessly eluding police by ramming squads and even citizen-owned vehicles in an effort to escape apprehension.
"These dangerous drug dealers are frequently well-armed and use counter surveillance techniques which add to danger to law enforcement and the community," Severson said.
Severson testified on Wednesday before the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, led by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. It is considering calls to beef up security along the U.S. Mexican border and get tough on people who come here illegally and commit serious crimes, including, selling toxic drugs.