BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) - Last year, the Brown County Drug Task Force made 616 arrests. That's a 16% increase over 2011. Open investigations and tips from the public were also up significantly. However, investigators say they still have a long way to go.
The task force seized more than $1.5 million dollars worth of drugs in 2012. But law enforcement say the trends are changing.
"For years upon years, cocaine was king in this area," explained Lt. David Poteat, the task force director. "You'd see kilos and kilos in Green Bay and that's not really the case anymore. I'm sure there's still large quantities out there, it just seems to be less available than it has been in the past."
Along with cocaine, Lt. Poteat said ecstasy seizures were also down. He said it seems the new drugs of choice are prescription narcotics and heroin. In fact, there was a 230% increase in heroin busts.
"The overuse and over prescribing of prescription drugs accelerates this narcotic addiction that has been quietly growing," explained Lt. Poteat. "and now that we're clamping down on the supply of prescription drugs, the alternative to turn to is now heroin."
Counselors at Libertas Treatment Center are also seeing this trend. Clinical Supervisor Tom Ritchie said about 60% of clients suffer from an opioid dependence.
"One thing, when you start abusing these prescription pain killers," Ritchie said. "is you develop a tolerance very quickly and you also reduce your tolerance for pain. So people develop a physical and psychological dependence on these drugs quickly and that has opened the door into heroin use in a lot of communities."
"What we're looking to do is change some of our efforts to focus more on highways," added Lt. Poteat. "We believe a lot of drugs are coming from that path. In order to do that effectively, we need more marked squads, but things like that cost money so we're using our budget and forfeiture resources to the best use to try to address those issues."
The task force also saw a spike in high potency marijuana and synthetic drugs.