‘It is sad’: Dickinson County detective says meth, fentanyl cases are on the rise

The county has seen at least 50 drug cases annually since 2016
Fentanyl(MGN Graphics)
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:38 PM EDT
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DICKINSON COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - In Dickinson County, law enforcement officers are seeing more than just meth in their communities.

Det. Lt. Derek Dixon of the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office says officers mostly deal with two types of drugs.

“The most common drugs that we see are the two main ones,” Dixon said. “They are split about 50/50 between meth and fentanyl right now.”

Like many U.P. counties, Dixon noted that meth-related crime exploded in Dickinson County in 2016, jumping to 26 felony meth cases. Dixon added fentanyl later became a drug of concern for officers in 2020.

“We saw a huge spike in our possession cases as well as our delivery cases,” Dixon said. “As time has gone on that has kind of held.”

The county’s drug problem has increased. Dixon added that the county’s drug possession and delivery cases have more than doubled from 2016 to now.

According to Dixon, Dickinson County has averaged around 50 every year since 2016. He suspected that 2022 may have the most felony drug cases in the county’s history, which also drives up theft crimes.

“Our county has had a rash of catalytic converter thefts off vehicles,” Dixon added. “We have been able to specifically link many of those cases in our community to people stealing them to buy drugs.”

Dixon noted that meth and fentanyl felony possession charges are the most common in the county. He said most of these drugs are discovered by officers during traffic stops.

“The possession charge is more common than possession with intent to deliver just because patrol officers are coming across it more often on the streets in their day-to-day activities,” he explained.

Perhaps most concerning, Dixon said he has seen more drug overdose deaths since 2021 than ever before.

“I have been with the office for over 25 years and I have never seen as many deaths from drugs in the last year to year-and-a-half as I have now,” Dixon exclaimed. “It is sad.”

The detective noted that one reason for all the U.P.’s drug cases and overdose deaths could be its geography. He described Dickinson County, and all of Upper Michigan, as the ‘end of the road’ for drugs in the U.S.

Dixon explained that everything travels north through big cities like Chicago, Milwaukee and Green Bay to a final destination in the U.P. Over time, this has created a cheap and readily available supply of drugs for users. Dixon added that detectives have noticed this during undercover drug purchases.

“The quantities that we were able to purchase on our drug team went from small amounts a few years ago, to now where the availability to buy ounces of whatever product we want is just astonishing,” Dixon said. “It’s hard to believe how quickly it has gone up.”

Dixon said there is not one area of concern in the county either. Whether it is age, location or socioeconomic status, Dixon exclaimed that meth addiction and fentanyl overdoses seem to know no limit. As such, Dixon relayed a message to parents about hard drugs like meth and fentanyl.

“Don’t wait until your kids are in high school, start talking to them in elementary school about the dangers of drugs,” Dixon said. “They might go to a party and someone could say to them, ‘Try this pill, it will make you feel better,’ and the next thing you know they are overdosing on fentanyl. Sadly, we have seen that in every community across Upper Michigan.”

Dixon is part of the Kingsford, Iron Mountain, Norway, Dickinson, or KIND, drug team. He said KIND will continue working with other law enforcement agencies to slow overdose deaths.

KIND’s ultimate goal is ridding drugs from Dickinson County wherever and whenever possible.

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