DA, cops target Milwaukee dealers who sell to Ozaukee buyers just across county line
A 33-year-old Milwaukee man who allegedly sold drugs to an undercover sheriffâ€™s deputy in Glendale has been charged â€” in Ozaukee County â€” with conspiring to deal heroin.
Why Ozaukee County? Because law enforcement officers and prosecutors here are taking their fight against heroin and other drugs across the border.
Three felony charges of conspiracy to manufacture/deliver heroin against Antonio Green Sr., who according to court records is a felon who lives on North 39th Street in Milwaukee, are the result of the latest tactic Ozaukee County is using in its campaign against drug dealers who have become too savvy to pedal their product on Ozaukee soil but nonetheless are still willing to supply local distributors.
â€śWeâ€™re trying something new because Lord knows what weâ€™ve been doing hasnâ€™t solved the problem,â€ť Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said. â€śYouâ€™ll be seeing more of these cases in the future because we realize the other side of the border is just a short drive away, and what weâ€™ve seen recently is a concerted effort by drug dealers to consummate their deals on the other side of the border.â€ť
The border Gerol speaks of is the Ozaukee-Milwaukee county line, the new front in the battle to stem the flow of heroin and other drugs into Ozaukee County.
Aggressive investigation and prosecution of drug cases in Ozaukee County, including several homicide convictions against typically Milwaukee dealers who delivered narcotics to users who died of overdoses, have sent a message â€” youâ€™re likely to go to prison if caught dealing drugs in Ozaukee County, Gerol said.
Thatâ€™s enough to keep drug peddlers out of the county, but not enough to stop them from doing business with distributors here, who often pay a suburban markup for drugs like heroin, Gerol said.
Thatâ€™s why drug dealers are insisting their Ozaukee customers cross the border into Milwaukee County, and why Ozaukee County authorities are doing the same.
â€śIâ€™m not going to get up on my high horse and say weâ€™re tougher on crime here, but there is a perception among drug dealers that theyâ€™ll be treated differently on the other side of the border,â€ť Gerol said. â€śYou have to deal with the people who are buying the drugs, but you also have to deal with the people who are selling them. Thatâ€™s what weâ€™re doing, and thatâ€™s what needs to be done.â€ť
Antonio Green is a case in point, according to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.
Between June 17 and 19, Green sold just more than 5 grams of heroin to an undercover Ozaukee County sheriffâ€™s deputy for $820, the compliant states.
In each case, the deal, which was arranged by the deputy via telephone and text messages from Ozaukee County, was made at a location of Greenâ€™s choosing â€” the parking lot of a Kohlâ€™s Department Store near the Bayshore Town Center shopping mall in the City of Glendale, according to the complaint.
Each time the deputy arranged to buy heroin from Green, she attempted to make it clear she was distributing the heroin to another person in Ozaukee County, a key element in the prosecution of the case.
In one text message, the deputy wrote to Green, â€śMy man has some friends from work who are looking. U think I could pick up some more tomorrow to bring back to Grafton for them?â€ť according to the complaint.
In order to convict Green of conspiracy to deliver heroin in Ozaukee County, prosecutors need to prove that he was aware that the person he was selling to intended to distribute the drug in the county, Gerol said.
Green and others like him will face years in prison if convicted, but Gerol said the war against drugs wonâ€™t be won just by locking up the bad guys. Fear of prosecution that reaches across county lines, however, may help, he said.
â€śSuburban drug buyers are already being subjected to profiling and being treated differently by dealers, sometimes paying twice as much for heroin just because they are from the suburbs,â€ť Gerol said. â€śOne of our goals is to use that same sort of profiling so dealers arenâ€™t willing to take the risk of selling to a suburban buyer.â€ť
When asked if investigating and prosecuting cases typically under the jurisdiction of other agencies could tax Ozaukee County resources, Gerol said, â€śThatâ€™s what our resources are for. Iâ€™m not trying to find more work for us. I think this is absolutely necessary.
â€śThe only way to deal with this heroin epidemic is to throw all our resources at it. Youâ€™re not going to treat your way out of it. Youâ€™re not going to incarcerate your way out of it. You have to take a multifaceted approach. Thatâ€™s what weâ€™re trying to do.â€ť