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Drug investigation, involving evidence of prostitution, leads to La Crosse bust



Drug dealing, prostitution, firearms, and thousands of dollars in cash. La Crosse police discovered all that in a drug bust from three La Crosse addresses, which has landed several people in court. 

Prosecutors say after-bar parties involving drug use and prostitution have been common in an upstairs apartment above Carlie’s Bar on 3rd St., allegedly run by Jose Santos. A police informant said there was a $250-minimum charge for prostitution, which involved two girls, aged 16 and 19.

In one of the bedrooms, there, police found $1,080 in cash, cocaine salt – which was hidden in ceiling tiles – marijuana and a loaded 9mm Smith and Wesson gun. Police also found jars of ecstasy pills inside the apartment.

At the other addresses on Ferry St. and South 8th St., an M-16 rifle was found, along with more drugs and cash.

The police informant reportedly attended several after-bar parties at the 3rd St. apartment, where drug use and prostitution ran rampant.

Judge Elliot Levine set bond for the suspects at different levels, ranging from signature bonds to $1,000 cash. The defendants are due back in court next week.

In court, defense attorney Zach Lee commented on those bonds.

“The pre-trial report has recommended anything from to $2,500 to, and this person is a minimum of $10,000 cash,” he said. “I don’t know what goes into these but it just seems odd to me.”

Santos is one of seven co-defendants named in a criminal complaint, and not all have appeared in court yet.  So far, the criminal charges filed relate mainly to drug activity, and not prostitution.

Almost a decade ago, area police considered 37-year-old Santos a major player in the drug business.

In a 2009 case, Santos was accused of and convicted of transporting large amounts of marijuana from California to La Crosse. He was sentenced to four years probation.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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