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Drug use escalates in Wisconsin despite stronger law enforcement

All drug crimes are serious in nature. They are among the most common, with the number of methamphetamine drug charges reportedly tripling between 2008 and 2014 in Wisconsin. As more defendants are facing criminal trials and penalties based on this and other controlled substance offenses, the need for effective criminal defense strategies is increasing as well.

According to recent reports, Eau Claire County has constructed a committee to study meth use in particular. Law enforcement officials, drug abuse counselors and other employees will be studying and making recommendations concerning approaches to the growing trend of drug addiction. With the required intensive treatment needed to combat addiction, it's possible that defense plea bargains or alternative sentencing options can be devised to lessen the impact of the arrest on individuals and families.

Reports are the drug court appearances of meth users has increased substantially in recent years. In 2010, two of 30 defendants were meth users. Today, that number is 12. According to local police reports, 20 people in a major meth ring were arrested last summer. The head of the ring received a six-year prison sentence. In another county, a dealer was sentenced to 10 years in jail, and the investigation is ongoing.

With reported ties to Mexico, cartels are moving drugs into the state through Twin Cities' connections. They then move west. Eastern Wisconsin drugs are primarily from Chicago sources. According to the drug court coordinator in Eau Claire County, methamphetamine is easy to find, and prices are low.

Governments are clamping down by passing laws designed to limit retail access to ingredients like pseudoephedrine that are used to make meth in homegrown labs. Law enforcement is becoming more focused on preventing addicts from perpetrating other crimes. They report that drug crime involving meth is more common in rural areas.

Every defendant charged with a drug crime is entitled to representation. A defense may include efforts to minimize long-term consequences through effective negotiations with prosecutors and may include treatment options. With an increasingly vigorous effort by authorities to deal with drug crimes, it will be important to assure the rights of an individual suspected of drug use, possession or distribution be protected in the process.

Source: WDIO Eyewitness News, "Meth Use Increases Sharply in Western Wisconsin" Mar. 17, 2015

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