Methamphetamine is a commonly used drug in Wisconsin. It can have swift and profound effects on the body and mind. Its stimulant effect on the central nervous system can lead to death due to cardiovascular collapse. Long-term use can cause psychotic symptoms of delusion and paranoia that can give rise to suicidal or homicidal tendencies. For these reasons, authorities in Wisconsin vigorously prosecute the illegal possession, distribution or manufacture of methamphetamine.

The methamphetamine used in Wisconsin typically comes from two primary sources. The vast majority originates in Mexico. However, some clandestine meth labs that illicitly manufacture the substance still exist in Wisconsin, although there are fewer than there were approximately 15 years ago.

Where are clandestine meth labs most likely to exist in Wisconsin?

The manufacture of methamphetamine in clandestine labs has occurred throughout Wisconsin, in metropolitan and rural areas alike. However, they were initially most prevalent in northwestern rural counties. Clandestine labs started appearing in metropolitan areas as illicit manufacturing operations began spreading east and south. Motel rooms, apartments and homes throughout Wisconsin have been sites of clandestine meth labs, as have barns, garages and sheds. The implications of illicit methamphetamine manufacturing for public health become more pronounced in more densely populated areas.

What accounts for the downward trend in meth labs?

Since 2003, the number of Wisconsin meth labs has decreased by 76%. This is due in part to the dismantling of 27 illicit manufacturing sites statewide in 2006. Compared to the previous year, the number of cases submitted to the State Crime Lab decreased by approximately 60% after the dismantling took place.

What are the implications for criminal justice in Wisconsin?

Though the number of homemade meth labs in Wisconsin has declined, the use of the substance is still common. Since most methamphetamine is now coming to Wisconsin from Mexico via southwestern states like California, law enforcement has since shifted its attention to focus on traditional illicit drug trafficking routes.