AG Knudsen shares reminder of drug’s devastating impact in Montana on Fentanyl Awareness Day

AG Knudsen shares reminder of drug’s devastating impact in Montana on Fentanyl Awareness Day

HELENA – Attorney General Austin Knudsen issued the following statement on Fentanyl Awareness Day 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. 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. I will continue to do everything I can as attorney general to stop it, but the problem won’t be solved until President Biden does his job and secures the southern border. Please, don’t take a pill that hasn’t been prescribed to you.”

So far this year, the Montana Highway Patrol has seized 30,805 fentanyl pills and 166 grams of fentanyl in powder form. Those numbers are the latest data in an upward trend of fentanyl seized in Montana. In 2023, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces seized a total of 398,552 dosage units of fentanyl – 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 – an increase of 1,900 percent from 2017 when there were just four. This number does not reflect the entire statewide total, as the crime lab only verifies deaths that involve an autopsy.

To combat the problem in Montana, Attorney General 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 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, and Senate Bill 67 which revises drugs scheduled for Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III, Schedule IV, and Schedule V controlled substances and provides updates to each listed schedule, enabling more state-level prosecutions.

In addition to increasing the number of Montana Department of Justice narcotics and major case agents, Attorney General Knudsen has 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.

He also continues to lead the fight against the Biden administration’s disastrous border policies in federal court, engaging in multiple lawsuits to compel it to enforce existing immigration laws and secure the border. Attorney General Knudsen also hosted a family summit in April to speak directly with Montanans who have lost loved ones to fentanyl overdoses about what can be done to stop more overdoses in the future.

Skip to content