"Extensive operation" busted: 19 arrested, 2 more sought in nationwide drug conspiracy

MILWAUKEE -- 19 people were arrested on federal drug charges, and a large amount of drugs, weapons and cash was seized. The U.S. Attorney's Office held a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, September 19th to say the suspects were part of a nationwide drug conspiracy.

"This is a great day for law enforcement," Attorney General Brad Schimel said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said the cases involve the distribution of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. The arrests all happened Tuesday, September 19th. The investigation has been taking place for the last couple of years. Federal, state and local law enforcement teamed up.

Officials seized 31 kilograms of cocaine, more than two kilograms of heroin and 10 pounds of meth. In addition to the drugs, authorities seized weapons and $1.3 million in cash.

Investigators say the suspects were trafficking the drugs in hidden compartments in vehicles and transporting them on commercial auto carriers. The drugs were coming from California, Illinois and Mexico.

"We expect this to make a significant dent in trafficking in the area," Gregory Haanstad, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin said. "This was an extensive operation involving large quantities of controlled substances, took place across state borders, even international borders."

Investigators say the suspects put drugs in hidden compartments in vehicles, and they were transported by commercial auto carriers to the Milwaukee area.


"As different avenues to distribution and transportation are cut off, these organizations develop other means of delivering their drugs and this one was somewhat unusual," Haanstad said.

In addition to the 19 arrests, investigators are still looking for two individuals. If convicted of the federal charges, they could face life in prison.

"To the members of the drug trafficking organizations who have not yet been charged or arrested, I want to say 'don't sleep well. We are coming after you in the coming weeks and months,'" Robert Bell with the DEA said.