Part 1: Undercover Enforcers
The Investigators Behind The Heroin Busts
In a two-part special report FOX 21’s Dan Hanger gives you a rare look inside the lives of Duluth’s undercover investigators who are putting their lives on the line to help stop drug dealers from taking over the streets and preying on people addicted to opioids.
“Heroin is an opioid, OxyContin is an opioid, Fentanyl is an opioid. They are all the same thing. They all attach themselves to the same receptor in your head.
Lt. Jeff Kazel with the Duluth Police Department is a head commander of the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.
“The country as a whole has a problem. And we have a problem, too,” Kazel explained.
While Kazel believes the over prescribing of prescription pain killers is a big factor leading many to a hungry and cheaper addiction to heroin, he knows his main focus is to attack the bad guys first.
“We’ve arrested people that have been some of the top 10 wanted people to be arrested in other cities,” said Kazel.
In 2014, around 19,000 people overdosed and died from prescription drugs in the U.S., and more than 10,000 people were killed by heroin overdoses, according to national statistics.
“If they see us doing things one way, they’ll change up their game. It’s a constant cat and mouse game — and we usually win,” explained who we are identifying as “Investigator W,” with the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.
“W” is a father and husband who was born and raised in Duluth.
“You don’t get too much sleep,” “W” said after mentioning his longest drug investigation shift at 31 hours.
According to “W,” the amount of heroin and weapons now flowing into the Twin Ports is at record rates.
“We will arrest one guy, and another day or two, and another guy is right back in Duluth taking his place. It’s non-stop,” “W” said.
But “W” believes the task force is more determined and connected than ever at nabbing dealers on a weekly basis, which in turn sends a strong message for other criminals to stay out.
“It doesn’t matter how slick you think you are, or how smart you think you are being selling drugs in our city. You are going to get caught. It’s not a matter of if you are going to get caught, it’s when. It’s going to happen,” “W” explained.
And that promise is a very personal and heavy responsibility for “Investigator W” that can be exhilarating at times, but also mentally challenging when he tries to separate these duties from his life away from the job.
“Personally, I struggle with it. It’s hard to separate your job from your personal life because … you don’t ever want to let your guard down,” “W” explained.