Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - According to Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Montana’s anti-drug task forces are continuing to shatter fentanyl seizure records as nearly two times more fentanyl has already been taken off the streets so far this year compared to all of 2022, which had obliterated previous records. 

Through September 30, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces seized a total of 346,383 dosage units of fentanyl in Montana, which is an 83 percent increase in the total amount seized in 2022. Almost 60,000 dosage units were seized between June 30 and September 30 of this year, nearly matching the 60,557 seized in all of 2021. 

“Fentanyl is flooding in from Joe Biden’s wide-open southern border. Our law enforcement and drug task forces are doing an excellent job as evidenced by these numbers, but we must secure the border to stop it otherwise we’re treating a bullet wound with a band-aid,” said Knudsen. “As Attorney General, I will continue to do everything I can to hold the Biden administration accountable for this disaster and get dangerous drugs off the streets here in Montana. Montana parents and caretakers should continue to talk to their kids about the dangers of fentanyl and remind them to never take a drug that isn’t prescribed – it can only take one pill to kill.” 

Fentanyl Isn't the Only Drug Being Seized

Knudsen said the task forces have also seized 59 percent more cocaine than they did last year.  

“They have already seized 38.41 pounds of cocaine compared to 24.11 pounds in 2022,” Knudsen said. “Methamphetamine seizures are steady, with 148 pounds taken off the streets in the first three quarters of the year compared to 200 all last year. An unprecedented number of routine traffic stops by Highway Patrol troopers are also leading to drug busts. The Montana Highway Patrol reports having seized or assisted in seizing 75,972 total dosage units of fentanyl through the third quarter of 2023, including 8,468 fentanyl pills seized during cold traffic stops.” 

Fentanyl-linked deaths have also been on the rise in Montana. Last year, the State Crime Lab reported 77 overdose deaths involving fentanyl, which is an increase of 1,750 percent from 2017 when there were just four. 

Combating the Problem

To combat the problem in Montana, Knudsen secured funding for two narcotics agents at the Division of Criminal Investigation during the 2023 Legislative Session. He also supported bills that will help combat the crisis, including imposing mandatory minimums for fentanyl traffickers. 

Earlier this year, Knudsen urged U.S. Senate leadership to pass the HALT Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule all current and future fentanyl analogs as Schedule I drugs. Knudsen said this gives law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on the epidemic by stopping the flow of the dangerous drugs developed to imitate fentanyl. 

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