Released: Aug 16th, 2022

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen recently announced that anti-drug task forces here in Montana are on pace to triple the record set last year for fentanyl seizures, and have already taken 58 times more fentanyl off the streets this year compared to all of 2019.

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AG Knudsen also noted that Fentanyl-linked deaths, opioid overdose 9-1-1 calls requiring emergency services, and firearms found alongside illegal drugs are also on the rise in 2022.

According to the AG office, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Forces seized 111,611 doses of fentanyl in Montana, including 17,892 doses combined with 20.66 fentanyl pounds converted to dose units. In 2021, task forces seized 37,724 doses and 5.03 pounds of fentanyl, totaling 60,577 doses combined. For 2020, that number was 6,663 and for 2019, 1,900.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen had this to say about the fentanyl epidemic in Montana:

There’s no question that fentanyl is now the number one public safety threat facing Montana. Mexican drug cartels are pushing it across the border, flooding it into our state at an unprecedented rate — and killing Montanans. I’ve put additional resources into the fight against drugs and crime in Montana and will continue my efforts alongside other law enforcement agencies to keep our communities safe.

Data from the CDC states that drug overdose deaths have increased across the United States by 30 percent in the 2019-2020 period and are now a leading cause of death for young adults. Interestingly, the rate of OD deaths increased 49 percent among the Native American population, ages 25 to 44. Fentanyl is the primary culprit of this rise.

In Montana, the state crime lab has seen fentanyl-linked fatal ODs increase more than 1,100 percent since 2017. In the first five months of 2022, the state crime lab has already confirmed 34 deaths with fentanyl involved, with dozens more suspected to be linked to fentanyl. Opioid-related responses by emergency services are up 57 percent in 2022 vs 2021.

One other thing of note, methamphetamine remains a strong threat for Montanans, being a contributing factor in many of the crimes committed. Task forces have taken 129 pounds of meth so far this year, along with 4.6 pounds of heroin, and 8.1 pounds of cocaine.

In response to this epidemic, AG Knudsen has increased the number of Montana DOJ narcotics and major case agents, added a statewide drug intelligence officer, and spearheaded a grant program that assisted in the deployment of two dozen drug detecting K9s across Montana.

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