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Significant Drug Threats

Heroin availability is increasing in areas throughout the nation. 

Heroin continues to be widely abused and trafficked throughout the State of Wisconsin.  Wisconsin has seen dramatic increase in the supply of heroin, resulting in increased availability, and cheaper, purer heroin[1].

Seizure data indicates a sizeable increase in heroin availability in the United States. According to National Seizure System[2] (NSS) data, heroin seizures in the United States increased 81 percent over five years, from 2,763 kilograms in 2010 to 5,014 kilograms in 2014. (See Chart 1)

Violent crime related to heroin abuse and heroin trafficking continues to increase as homicides, assaults, and home invasions are more commonly attributed to gangs, street-level heroin dealers, and heroin drug trafficking organizations.  Property crime related to heroin use and abuse continues to rise as addicted heroin abusers try to find money to support habits[1].

Fentanyl-related deaths spike across the nation.

Fentanyl, which is used to put patients under for surgery and to alleviate severe pain, is 50 times more powerful than street heroin and 100 times stronger than prescription morphine.[3]

Because it is a synthetic, fentanyl can be made in underground labs, though its production is complicated. Known as synthetic heroin or China White, this form of fentanyl looks like heroin and is often mixed with other drugs — sometimes with deadly results[3].

Heroin was the most commonly occurring drug found in toxicology reports, appearing in 39% of toxicology reports between 2012-2015.  Also of importance is the continued increase of fentanyl occurrences. (See Chart 2)[4]

Increased use and abuse of heroin in the state of Wisconsin is evidenced by a rise in heroin treatment admissions and increased incidents of overdose deaths throughout the state.  Heroin will remain the most significant drug threat in Wisconsin due to sustained usage and availability[1].


[1] DEA Milwaukee District Office

[2] (U) The National Seizure System (NSS) tabulates information pertaining to drug seizures made by participating law enforcement agencies.  NSS also includes data on clandestine laboratories seized in the United States by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.  The records contained in the system are under the control and custody of DEA, and are maintained in accordance of federal laws and regulations.

[3] John Diedrich, “2016 begins with a new spike in deaths tied to painkiller fentanyl”,, February 19, 2016.

[4]Office of Common Council President Michael J. Murphy, “888 Bodies and Counting”