Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - May 7 is National Fentanyl Awareness Day and Attorney General Austin Knudsen is warning Montanans of the dangerous drug. 

“While the data proves that our drug task forces are doing a great job getting fentanyl off the street, they can’t catch it all,” Knudsen said. “Too much of the dangerous drug is making its way across the southern border into our communities and it’s killing Montanans. It keeps me up at night knowing parents are losing their kids and young children are left to be raised by their grandparents or other family members.” 

Knudsen said he will continue to do everything he can as attorney general to stop it, but he said the problem won’t be solved until President Biden does his job and secures the southern border. 

AG Knudsen Shares Seizure Numbers 

So far this year, the Montana Highway Patrol has seized 30,805 fentanyl pills and 166 grams of fentanyl in powder form. In 2023, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) task forces seized a total of 398,552 dosage units of fentanyl, which is a 111 percent increase from the total amount seized in 2022, a nearly 600 percent increase from 2021, and a 20,000 percent increase from 2019. 

Fentanyl-linked deaths also continue to rise in Montana. The State Crime Lab has preliminarily reported 80 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in 2023, which is an increase of 1,900 percent from 2017 when there were just four. According to Knudsen, this number does not reflect the entire statewide total, as the crime lab only verifies deaths that involve an autopsy. 

During the 2023 Legislative Session, Knudsen secured funding for two narcotics agents at the Division of Criminal Investigation to combat the problem in Montana. He also supported bills that will help combat the crisis, including House Bill 791 which imposes a mandatory two years of jail time, a $50,000 fine, or both, for anyone convicted of selling fentanyl in Montana. 

Knudsen also added a statewide drug intelligence officer who assists local law enforcement and public health agencies and spearheaded a grant program that helped deploy two dozen drug-detecting K9s across the state. 

Fentanyl in Missoula 

Last week, the Missoula Police Department released its 2023 Annual Report. According to Chief Colyer, the most pressing public safety issue facing our community is the fentanyl crisis.   

Read More: Chief Addresses Missoula's Crime Trends in 2023 Annual Report

“The MPD is engaged to combat the devastation from this powerful opiate in two ways: life-saving efforts in the field, and assertive enforcement,” Colyer said. “MPD officers have saved countless lives by being trained and equipped with Narcan, an opiate reversal agent, used to save overdose subjects. Our enforcement efforts occur at both street level (use and distributions) and high-level investigation (drug trafficking organizations).”  

Colyer added that MPD’s participation in the RMHIDTA Task Force and the Montana Regional Violent Crime Task Force is key to these investigations.   

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