HOUGHTON — The Western Upper Peninsula has a new team in the fight against drugs.

The drug problem in the western U.P. continues to escalate and now law enforcement has a team in place to combat the growing epidemic. The Upper Peninsula Drug Enforcement Team’s newest addition-UPSET West-will focus on narcotics investigation in the region.

Lt. Randi Danison of the MSP Calumet Post said, “Uniformed people don’t really have enough time to go out and do the investigations, where an undercover team that is dedicated to working the narcotics investigation, would have time to work on
them all the time and that’s the reason why we came up with the concept, or the development of getting the UPSET West team put in this area, so they can work strictly and directly with just narcotics.”

The Portage Health Foundation provided the initial funding which was quickly followed up with contributions from Houghton County and the State of Michigan. Major contributors included Aspirus Keweenaw and U.P. Health System Portage, Baraga Memorial Hospital, Michigan Tech, as well as various local municipalities.

Portage Health Foundation Executive Director Kevin Store said, “The counties came together, the small townships and villages came together and, whether it was a $100 anonymous donation or the larger contributions we received from our
corporate sponsors, it all added up.”

The team is funded for the first three years but will need the support from the communityto continue beyond that. Store said, People need to open up their eyes. They need to really wake up to how serious of a health issue this is for our community and there’s a lot of people that go through our streets and walk down our streets and don’t recognize that this is a
serious issue-not just in our country but it’s here at home and we need to address it.”