For the first time in his 17-year career in law enforcement, Police Chief Jeffrey Schlueter has seen evidence of heroin being sold in New London.
Some of the initial evidence involved citizens coming to the police station with needles they found in parking lots or on the street.
“They could be for people with diabetes,” Schlueter said. “But, we had never had syringes turned in before.”
An investigation eventually led police to the home of 32-year-old Ashley J. Guyette.
There they seized heroin, cocaine, narcotics and marijuana.
Guyette has since been charged in Waupaca County Circuit Court with multiple felony drug offenses.
The investigation in New London has led to evidence that heroin and other drugs were moving from Milwaukee and Chicago into New London and from New London throughout Waupaca County.
“We know it’s been going into the Clintonville and Iola areas,” Schlueter said. “We believe we took the main source of heroin out of New London.”
Schlueter said the investigation found evidence of about 30 heroin users in Waupaca County being supplied by the New London dealer.
On April 12, an informant met with Schlueter and New London Police Officer Nick Kamba. She said Guyette had offered to sell her two bindles of heroin at $30 each.
A bindle of heroin is one-tenth of a gram. There are 28.35 grams per ounce.
The informant was given $60. She drove to a parking lot in New London, with Kamba following her in an unmarked vehicle.
Kamba observed the informant approach a silver Chevy Impala and make an exchange with the front seat passenger, later identified as Guyette.
The informant gave investigators the product she purchased, and it tested positive for heroin.
After the Impala left the parking lot, New London police stopped the vehicle and brought the driver and two passengers in for questioning.
On April 17, the Waupaca County tactical team executed a search warrant at the upstairs apartment on Washington Street, where Guyette lived.
They found small amounts of heroin and cocaine and a “California-style” soda can with a secret compartment.
Guyette was not at the apartment, because she was at the hospital delivering her baby, according to the criminal complaint.
Schlueter and Kamba subsequently questioned Guyette about her involvement in drugs. She admitted to selling prescription drugs and that she had sold heroin only a couple of times, the criminal complaint says.
She was released from custody, and police continued their investigation.
On April 27, police returned to Guyette’s apartment with a second search warrant.
This time, they found 10.2 grams of heroin, plus another 45 bindles of heroin.
They also reported finding 15.3 grams of crack cocaine, 13.8 grams of cocaine, 1.5 grams of marijuana and more than $1,100 in cash.
Police found drugs hidden inside balloons tucked inside the drawer of a stove. They also found heroin and narcotics inside a breakfast pastry box in the freezer.
Court records indicate Guyette was convicted of possession of cocaine and marijuana in Langlade County in July 2007.
She faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of possession of more than 10 grams of heroin with intent to deliver.
Heroin epidemic in Wisconsin
Prior to the heroin investigation, area police had seen an increase in the illegal use of OxyContin, a prescription narcotic known as OP 80 because of the imprint on the pill.
“OxyContin is also an opiate,” Schlueter said. “A lot of people were using the pills. Once they became addicted and immune to the effects of the pills, they started buying heroin.”
The illegal use of prescription pain killers has also spread to the teen population.
Schlueter said prescription pills are now replacing marijuana among high school students.
Over the past two years, law enforcement is encountering more heroin on the streets of Wisconsin.
In Milwaukee, police seized just under two pounds of heroin in 2011, according to a report in the Journal Sentinel.
In 2012, police seized more than 41 pounds of heroin.
Prior to becoming police chief in 2009, Schlueter worked six years on assignment with the Lake Winnebago Area Drug Task Force.
“I don’t think we ever made a heroin arrest while I was there,” Schlueter said. “What we dealt with the most was cocaine and marijuana.”
Schlueter said the current heroin epidemic seems to have moved from the Milwaukee area into other parts of the state.
“About a year ago, we started seeing heroin in the Appleton area,” Schlueter said. “We’re having a huge problem with it in large, urban areas.”
Because drugs are moving from urban areas to rural areas, the investigation of drug trafficking is multijurisdictional. An arrest in New London may lead to an arrest in Milwaukee or Appleton.
“All of the agencies work very closely,” Schlueter said. “There are no real boundaries or jurisdictions when investigating drugs.”
Schlueter said there is no single demographic group in Waupaca County most likely to be using heroin.
“They can be male or female, early 30s or younger, some are employed and some are unemployed,” Schlueter said.
He noted tips from residents who suspect drug activity can be helpful in an investigation. However, anonymous phone calls accusing a neighbor of selling drugs are not enough information for police to obtain a search warrant.
“The information can be useful, but we have to follow the guidelines of the Fourth Amendment,” Schlueter said, noting police cannot enter and search a home without a warrant. The court will not issue a warrant without sufficient evidence.
“We have rules to follow, and it’s called the law,” Schlueter said. “The criminals don’t have rules, and they can do whatever they want.”
Schlueter asked that those who have information about possible drug trafficking also provide their names and numbers where investigators can reach them.