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State funds boost war on drugs

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Thursday announced the awarding of $14,869 in state Penalty Assessment Surcharge funds to the Northwest Area Crime Unit. Participating counties in the crime unit include Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Sawyer and Washburn. The Penalty Assessment Surcharge funding is supplemented by an additional $29,263 in federal Byrne Memorial/Justice Assistance Grants through the Office of Justice Assistance.

"Drug and criminal gang related crime is a serious problem in Wisconsin. I am pleased to help fund the Northwest Area Crime Unit on its efforts in the war on drugs," Van Hollen said. "By combining the resources of multiple law enforcement jurisdictions, these groups are able to develop multifaceted, cooperative drug investigations."

In addition to the Northwest Area Crime Unit, these grants also fund 18 other MEG Units across the state and assistant district attorney positions to work on drug prosecutions in Dane, Milwaukee and St. Croix Counties. The awards are meant to cover costs of operations in Calendar Year 2010.

Historically, the statewide MEG Units were funded largely through federal Byrne/JAG grant funding. As those funds have seen reductions over recent years, the state developed the process of supplementing federal funding. No taxpayer money is used.