County prosecutor: Marquette County felony drug cases ‘lower than last year’

The county has 402 open felony drug cases so far in 2022.
Currently, there are 402 open felony meth cases in Marquette County.
Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 7:53 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Drug-related crime remains an issue for Marquette County.

In 2022, however, cases could be coming down. Last year, Marquette County led the state in felony meth cases based on population with 351 in total. Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese said this number is now trending downward.

“I just ran the numbers for 2022 and our pace is lower than it was last year,” Wiese noted. “If it continues like this we will have fewer felony drug cases this year.”

Currently, there are 402 open felony meth cases in Marquette County. This is more than 2021, but so far it is smaller than the 229 to 351 case increase from 2020 to 2021.

Wiese said the continuingly high number of cases stems from people struggling to break the cycle of addiction. Especially those who cannot afford treatment and who are constantly interacting with law enforcement.

“We may see more of it in a lower socioeconomic area,” Wiese explained. “That is because there is a lack of resources. People that live in higher socioeconomic areas may have the same drug addiction issues but they have different types of resources. They are not usually on the front line dealing with law enforcement and the criminal justice system.”

Meth is highly addictive and difficult to get off. As such, Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt said many of those addicted tend to commit crimes just to afford another high.

“The drug is so strong that once you are on it all you think about is your next high,” Zyburt added. “You will do whatever to get that next high, break into peoples’ houses, steal stuff.”

Wiese noted that there are currently around 100 defendants with four or more open felony files, most of which are drug-related felonies. Wiese added, however, that backlogged trials are finally being scheduled. Many charged could have the option of attending a drug treatment program to get clean once and for all.

“I anticipate that there will be some level of accountability,” Wiese said. “People are either going to have a trial, agree to go to rehab or get convicted and go behind bars.”

While cases may be trending downward, ridding meth from Marquette County is still a big task. Sheriff Zyburt said most of it comes in from out of the area, making it hard to track. Zyburt added it is also inexpensive, which makes it easier for people struggling with addiction to access the drug.

“Cartels are bringing it in through the Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit areas,” Zyburt noted. “It is relatively cheap so it is a lot easier to get.”

Law enforcement is working daily to limit the flow of meth into Marquette County. Det. Sgt. Matthew LaBonte is part of UPSET, the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team. UPSET works to take down drug traffickers coming into the area.

“A big part of our job is to use intelligence information that comes in and focus on where we can get the most bang for our buck so to speak,” LaBonte said. “We want to take out those larger shipments, work our way up the chain and try to get these suppliers.”

Det. Sgt. LaBonte added a serious message for those bringing meth into places like Marquette County. LaBonte said it is them who are getting yoopers addicted.

“We are on the clock 24/7,” LaBonte noted. “We are going to locate you and potentially get you sent to prison. We want to make sure our communities are safe for everyone.”

The goal is to clean up Marquette County’s drug problem.

As more meth is busted and more cases make their way through the county court system, that reality slowly becomes likely.

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