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Out-of-town gangs come to La Crosse to make drug money, says county sheriff

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You might not hear much about gang-related crime happening in the La Crosse area, but law enforcement pays attention to it. 

Sheriff Jeff Wolf tells the La Crosse County judicial committee that a lot of the drug-related crime occurring in the county is tied to gangs from bigger cities, coming to La Crosse to find drug customers.

Wolf quotes investigators looking into gang activity as saying gangs “can make almost double, especially off of methamphetamine and fentanyl on selling drugs in the La Crosse area than they can in Chicago.”

Wolf says investigators have found that the gangs also do business in La Crosse, expecting that they’ll get less punishment here than if they’re caught in big cities.                

In the 1990’s, area police had to deal with a series of violent confrontations, including gunfire, between rival Hmong youth gangs. 

Wolf says that doesn’t happen much any more in La Crosse County.  because those out-of-town gangs rarely fight with each other. But he says the shooting deaths of three young men last July at a quarry near West Salem appear to be gang-related.

Two men are awaiting trial for the murders.  

The sheriff says Asian gangs from the Twin Cities and Wausau operate here, along with Latinos from Milwaukee and Minneapolis, and African-American gangs from as far away as Chicago and Toledo.

Wolf says local gang members tend to be white, and belong to “bike gangs.”

       

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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