La Crosse Police Department explains local fentanyl problem

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Up to 71- thousand overdoses may have been prevented by the La Crosse Police Department after two recent investigations led to the seizure of large amounts of drugs. First News at Nine’s Hayley Spitler explains how those two investigations also led to the arrests of five people.

In two recent investigations, the La Crosse Police Department seized more than 140 grams of fentanyl, 20 thousand dollars in cash, and arrested five people. Gundersen Health System says getting fentanyl off the streets is a win.

Gundersen Emergency Medicine Physician, Dr. Chris Eberlein said, “Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is much, much more stronger than heroin. In fact, it’s about 100 times as strong as heroin and we’ve been seeing an increase in fentanyl as a cause of fatal overdose in our community over the last several years.”

Eberlein says in all of 2019 there were 19 overdose deaths. As of August 30, there are already 27 overdose deaths this year.

Just last week, police officers responded to seven overdose calls, five resulting in death. To help get the drug off the street, the police department is doing controlled buys.

Sgt. Tom Walsh of La Crosse Police Department said, “These investigations do take some time because obviously these for-profit dealers aren’t going to sell directly to the police. We have to conduct our investigations utilizing informants.”

In total, 142.2 grams of fentanyl was seized, which according to Gundersen Health System, is 71 thousand lethal doses.

Two of the arrests made on September 2 were familiar faces to the police department. Liggins and Basley were also arrested in 2019 for dealing drugs and out on felony bonds.

“These aren’t people who are new to our court system. They are people who are doing this for profit, they are selling this poison in our communities and it’s certainly having a negative impact on our way of life here in the city of La Crosse, so hopefully, our courts will take this seriously,” said Walsh.

Liggins appeared in court last week and his cash bond is set at 150 thousand dollars.

Those struggling with addiction can 2-1-1 or your local physician to learn more about available resources.

In La Crosse, Hayley Spitler, First News at Nine.

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