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Knudsen: Montana opioid epidemic not slowing down

(The Center Square) – Fentanyl has been a problem in Montana for years, and 2024 appears to be no different.

Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) task forces seized 163,184 dosage units of fentanyl in Montana during the first quarter of this year. That is compared to 65,142 during the same period last year, an increase of 150 percent.

Because of this, Attorney General Austin Knudsen said Montana is “on pace to far surpass last year’s record-shattering number of fentanyl seizures.”

An estimated 398,000 fentanyl dosage units were seized last year in Montana. That was up from 188,823 in 2022 and 60,557 dosage units in 2021.

“While I’m glad anti-drug task forces are successfully taking fentanyl off the street, it means more of this poison is making its way across the southern border and into Montana where it’s killing men, women, and children,” said Attorney General Austin Knudsen in a news release.

RMHIDTA includes the Montana Department of Justice’s narcotics bureau as well as the Montana Highway Patrol, which Knudsen credits for making more traffic stops leading to drug arrests. Regardless, Knudsen said this week that the federal government needs to be more involved.

“I will continue to do everything in my power to fight this battle in Montana and urge President Biden to secure the border.”

Earlier this year, Knudsen testified before a House committee seeking to impeach Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over border issues and drug problems. Knudsen has also called on President Joe Biden to consider drug cartels terrorist organizations and label fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction.

“Mexican drug cartels are pushing it across the border, flooding it into our state at an unprecedented rate, and killing Montanans,” said Knudsen in 2022.

Knudsen recommends Montanans talk to their loved ones about the dangers of fentanyl. He also advises citizens to “never take a drug that is not prescribed to you.”

Montana’s State Crime Lab has reported 22 fentanyl-related overdose deaths. There were 80 in all of 2023. 

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