La Crosse Police fight potent heroin

As previously reported, a local doctor is concerned with a recent spike in drug overdoses in the area. The increase is believed to be the result of heroin being laced with a synthetic narcotic called Fentanyl, which makes the heroin 50 to 100 times stronger.

Thursday, the La Crosse Police Department held a news conference with Dr. Chris Eberlein, the ER physican and Tri-State Ambulance medical director, who was the first to warn of the “bad batch” of heroin.

The two sides said it is extremely important to get the word out about this potentially fatal drug to both save lives and stop the trend of overdoses from continuing.

Over the past 12-18 months, the La Crosse Police Department said it has seen an increase in both heroin use and sales.

The department said it hasn’t seen much of the Fentanyl-laced heroin yet, but it has a target in mind.

“The main thing that we would be doing is focusing our efforts on who’s bringing this poison into the community,” Captain Shawn Kudron said.

The Police Department, however, is slightly handcuffed in its investigative efforts because most people who have overdosed recently have gone to the hospital for treatment. Unless those people volunteer to speak to police, medical privacy laws prevent medical staff from providing much, if any, information.

But Kudron said any communication between medical personnel and law enforcement is extremely important.

“For us to communicate back and forth and to understand what the medical community is seeing so that we can then look at our efforts and refocus our efforts on what we may have out there on the streets to be responding to,” Kudron said.

Eberlein said there’s not a specific demographic being affected by heroin.

“No. I’ve seen overdoses from young teens all the way up into their 60s. This is a very broad base of people that are using it,” Eberlein said.

Eberlein said, obviously, he encourages everyone not to use heroin, but acknowledges heroin addiction is a chronic disease that has an extremely low success rate of treatment. He said there needs to be more money spent on treatment programs, otherwise things will never get better.

“(The U.S.) spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Ebola in the last couple of years; we’ve had two cases of that in the U.S. We had 50,000 deaths from narcotic overdose in America last year; we spent a fraction of that on our treatment programs and research,” Eberlein said.

Kudron said this isn’t the first time a “bad batch” of heroin has been sold in the area. In the summer of 2012, there were three overdoses in a span of as many days, with one being fatal.

Kudron said he doesn’t believe the heroin is being made locally; he said it is being brought in.

For more information about the dangers of heroin, there is a drug forum that will be held on Feb. 29 from 6-8 p.m. at the Cargill Room. Hear from local law enforcement, medical professionals and a Wisconsin family about its struggle with their son’s drug and alcohol addiction. This event is free and open to the public. To register, call 608-785-9872 or email