Division of Criminal Investigation

Methamphetamine in Wisconsin: An Overview


What is it? Methamphetamine (aka "speed," "crank," "ice," "meth") is a powerful, illegally-produced stimulant that attacks the central nervous system. Use of methamphetamine can quickly lead to nervousness, compulsive behavior, irritability, anger, aggressiveness, hallucinations, paranoia, depression with suicidal tendencies, heart attacks and strokes.

Methamphetamine has spread throughout the United States, particularly in the West, Midwest and Southeast. Although most of the methamphetamine in Wisconsin is manufactured outside of the state, clandestine methamphetamine labs have also been set up on kitchen tables or workbenches in sheds, garages, barns, homes, apartments and motel rooms. Manufacturing methamphetamine under these conditions poses dangerous risks for public health and the environment.

The scourge of methamphetamine endangers communities on many levels--families torn apart, futures destroyed, the natural environment polluted, and local governments strapped with the added burden of fighting the meth problem.

What does it do to people? Made from cold tablets, alcohol, lithium in batteries and the deadly ammonia often stolen from farm fertilizer suppliers, as well as other dangerous ingredients, meth is a dangerous chemical concoction that causes skin ulcerations and infection as a result of the addict picking at imaginary bugs. Addicts experience everything from sleeplessness, nausea and vomiting to more serious symptoms such as extreme paranoia and seizures. Users often become violent, which frequently results in domestic abuse.

Where is Wisconsin's meth problem? Initially, methamphetamine production at clandestine laboratories was most prevalent primarily in rural counties in northwestern Wisconsin, but the problem began to spread south and east, and was increasingly seen in metropolitan areas, including Milwaukee. Meth labs remain a problem; however, the trend is downward. During 2006, 27 meth labs were dismantled in Wisconsin, representing a 51.5% reduction from 2005. The State Crime Lab has seen a reduction of approximately 60% in the number of cases submitted from 2005 to 2006. The number of meth labs in Wisconsin has declined by 76% since 2003. During the first three months of 2007, only two meth labs had been dismantled in Wisconsin.
Much of the methamphetamine available in Wisconsin has come from Mexico, transported to Wisconsin from California and other southwest border states. As homemade meth labs have decreased in rural areas, the Department of Justice's Methamphetamine Initiative has been able to place more emphasis on traditional illicit drug trafficking routes for methamphetamine flowing across state borders.

What are the numbers?

  • Ninety percent of identity theft cases are generated by drug users, mostly by methamphetamine users.
  • In a National Association of Counties survey of county law enforcement officials in 2006, nearly half said they considered methamphetamine to be their primary drug problem more than cocaine, marijuana and heroin combined.
  • For each pound of methamphetamine produced, five to six pounds of hazardous waste is generated. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the average cost to clean up a methamphetamine production laboratory is $1,900.
  • The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that 1,660 children were found in the homes where 5,846 meth labs were seized nationwide in 2005.
  • The $181 billion in social costs attributed to drug abuse in 2002 cost the American family an average of $2,446.
  • In 2001, over six million children lived with at least one parent who abused or was dependent on alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Americans spent $64 billion to buy illegal drugs in 2000, an amount larger than that year's combined revenues of the four largest food companies listed in the Fortune 500.


Meth Lab Recovery Locations in 2013

Meth Lab Recovery Locations in 2014

Methamphetamine Cases by County of Offense 2010/2011/2012

Methamphetamine Cases by County of Offense 2009/2010/2011