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Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area: Drug Market Analysis

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2009
24 pages
This 2009 overview of the illicit drug situation in the Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) highlights significant trends and law enforcement concerns related to the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs.
The Milwaukee HIDTA region consists of 4 counties in the southeastern corner of Wisconsin with an estimated population of 1.68 million: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, and Waukesha. The illicit drug supply comes primarily from Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and criminal groups based in Chicago, located 90 miles south of Milwaukee. The city of Milwaukee is divided north and south by a major interstate, resulting in an ethnic and racial divide. The north is dominated by African-American criminal groups and street gangs which are the primary distributors of crack cocaine and marijuana in the region. Hispanic criminal groups and street gangs operate primarily in the south side of Milwaukee and dominate the distribution of powder cocaine and marijuana in that area. Cocaine distribution is a significant threat to the Milwaukee HIDTA region, however increased wholesale prices and decreased drug purity have led to a decrease in drug availability. Heroin abuse has increased in the HIDTA region, specifically among White adolescents. Law enforcement officials report heroin purity ranging from a low of 16 percent to a high of 89 percent, leading to an increase in heroin-related deaths in the region. Officials also report an increase in outdoor cannabis growing operations, especially in Kenosha County, with most of the operations coordinated and operated by Hispanics. The Milwaukee HIDTA region has also seen an increase in the illegal diversion and abuse of controlled prescription drugs (CPDs), with Milwaukee County seeing a 31-percent increase in controlled prescription opioid-related deaths between 2003 and 2007. Figures and list of sources