Five suspects involved in heroin bust appear in court, all plead not guilty

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Five people connected to a major heroin bust appeared in court today -- among the accused is Charles Ortiz Junior, who authorities say is the drug-ring leader's son.

Local, state, and federal officials announced a total of 48 arrests in Wednesday's press conference. Authorities say the massive heroin operation was based on the city's east side. Officials think they've got the leader -- and his son was among the five suspects who appeared Thursday afternoon.

Charles Ortiz Junior had company on Thursday when he appeared for a preliminary hearing. He faces six felony charges of selling heroin and cocaine. Authorities say his father, Charles Ortiz Senior, leads the 'East Side Mafiosa,' which was allegedly distributing heroin all over southeastern Wisconsin.

While one of the co-defendants reschedules his hearing, the other four, including Ortiz, plead not guilty. Investigators say they've tied the organization to nearly a dozen heroin overdose deaths.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office says it's confirmed more than 70 heroin deaths so far this year. That's more than twice as many heroin deaths in 2010. The Medical Examiner's Office notes, there are approximately 30 more suspects heroin deaths yet to be confirmed.

"Because it is so highly addictive, it's really easy for folks to get hooked on it and try it just once or twice and you're really hooked forever. It just gives you a high you never forget and unfortunately, you're forever chasing that high then," said Milwaukee County Medical Forensic Director, Sara Schreiber.

Schreiber says the growth in heroin use -- and deaths is connected to increased purity and drug manufacturers making it harder to abuse prescription drugs. She says anyone can become a heroin addict.

"We're seeing very affluent people to those that are not so much. It doesn't seem to have a real character that can be the stereotypical heroin user. It really seems to cross a lot of boundaries," said Schreiber.

The Medical Examiner's Office says it's confirmed another heroin death today, Thursday, November 13th, so the total for the year is now 72.

Schrieber says the range in victims' ages this year alone goes from 19 to 71.

The court documents for the suspects in this bust remain under seal, but we do know Charles Ortiz Senior is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, November 17th.

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  • Melissa

    Throw this POS thug in prison and charge him with multiple murders, because THAT is what it is! I don’t feel ANY sympathy for anyone that does drugs like this or dies from THEIR stupid choices. EVERYONE has problems-but only a handful choose this route. But I also believe these dealers and pushers must pay harshly for the deaths they create. So sick of hearing about this. Wisconsin is becoming an embarrassment nationwide.

    • 2ECOND

      embarrassment to the nation?? I bet if you looked into this we aren’t the leader in heroin deaths. The rest of your statement, right on! unfortunately I bet the liberal judges will slap them all on the hands.

    • LAURA

      I’m always amazed by the things that people say about topics that they are obviously completely uneducated about. “Their stupid choices”. Nice choice of words. If you only took the time to educate yourself and stop being ignorant, you would see that almost all heroin addicts start using as teens, then you would also learn that the teenage brain is not fully developed, hence the lack of decision making skills and increase in impulsive decisions. They use once or twice and are hooked, and by the time they are adults and old enough to make good decisions, they are so physically and mentally addicted they cannot stop without intense intervention. They need help, not jail time. Addiction is a disease. Some of the most educated doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, etc. in the entire world have classified addiction as a disease and an uncontrollable illness in the DSM 5. Now, I agree that drug dealers who are responsible for selling drugs that have caused deaths should be put in jail, but the addicts are an entirely different story. They are sick. Non-restorative justice has been proven to do no good for addicts, but if your alright with throwing them in jail for over $33,000 a year and then having them get out just to repeat the offense, I guess your the smart one here then. This could easily happen to one of your family members, or God forbid, your children…but because it hasn’t and you haven’t experienced addiction, which is obvious by your lack of empathy and understanding and by your naive comments, you don’t care, yet you still made the decision to comment on something you know nothing about. You are allowed to have an opinion, I’m not saying you’re not, but I never make a decision about how I feel about something until I educate myself on that topic, and I’ve gotten very very far in life by doing so. Read the story on fox 6 “Prison or Treatment? Prosecutors Trying a Different Approach in Placing Heroin Involved Suspects”, do some research on Drug Treatment Courts, read some peer reviewed articles on addiction and childhood brain development and how it affects addiction, and medication assisted treatment, then feel free to post something that isn’t so rash.

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