Flathead Lawmaker Targeting Fentanyl Traffickers
A freshman lawmaker from Kalispell, Montana is looking to crack down on fentanyl traffickers in the state. This, after Montana's Attorney General noted an 11,000% increase in fentanyl seizures since 2019.
We caught up with Rep. Courtenay Sprunger (R-Kalispell) to talk about her legislation, House Bill 791, earlier this week. Attorney General Austin Knudsen's office says HB 791 "is the first bill of the session that seeks to tackle the rising tide of Fentanyl flowing into Montana. Teaming with Montana Attorney General Knudsen, Representative Sprunger is seeking a mandatory minimum sentence of two years jail time, a $50,000 fine, or both, for anyone convicted of trafficking Fentanyl in the state of Montana."
Rep. Sprunger highlighted the scourge of fentanyl hitting the entire state, even in the Flathead Valley. Just last week, she heard about an officer who had to be revived with Narcan after coming into contact with fentanyl.
Rep. Sprunger: I think mandatory minimum sentences have to be used really carefully. But when it comes to a drug that'll literally kill a law enforcement officer or a child on contact,that's a whole different category for me. I really feel this is a whole different class of dangerous drugs when it comes to fentanyl. And I think that we have to do something to take some of these people off the streets and to make it less pleasant to do business here right now. The borders are kind of open, our law enforcement officers are doing all they can, but we don't have the tools that we need to get these people off the streets.
Rep. Sprunger says they are not trying to target the individual drug user who may have gotten hooked on opioids. Instead, they are trying to focus on the drug traffickers themselves.
Rep. Sprunger: What you see if you if you look a little bit more closely at that legislation is that for charges to be brought under this statute- convicted must be in possession of 100 or more fentanyl pills, or a combined weight greater than 10 grams of powder, solid or liquid- inclusive of any kind of agent. So we're really intentional in making sure that somebody would have to have a pretty large volume or supply of this that would be indicative of trafficking, and we work closely with our narcotics division to identify that level.
Full audio of our chat with Rep. Sprunger:
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