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Seizures skyrocket in latest report

Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) – On June 18, 2024, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced that Montana drug enforcement agents seized 150 percent more fentanyl in the first quarter of 2024 than in the first quarter of 2023.

Knudsen said Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) officers seized a total of 163,184 dosage units of fentanyl in Montana during the first quarter of 2024, compared to 65,142 during the same period in 2023. In 2023, 398,000 dosage units were seized. In 2022, 188,823 dosage units were seized. In 2021, 60,557 dosage units were seized.

Knudsen said these amounts come from the six RMHIDTA task forces in Montana, which also include the Montana Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Bureau and the Montana Highway Patrol's criminal investigation teams. Knudsen added that these are not all of the drugs seized by all of the state's police forces. MHP also recently trained three of its drug detection dogs to detect fentanyl.

The state crime lab preliminarily reported 22 fentanyl overdose deaths this year. There were 80 deaths in 2023. However, that number does not reflect the statewide total because the crime lab only reviews deaths that require an autopsy.

“We are on track to far surpass last year's record number of fentanyl seizures,” Knudsen said. “While I'm glad drug enforcement officers are succeeding in getting fentanyl off the streets, it means more of this poison is finding its way across the southern border into Montana, where it is killing men, women and children. I will continue to do everything in my power to fight this fight in Montana and call on President Biden to secure the border.”

In the first quarter of the year, officers also seized 14.8 kilograms of cocaine, 58 kilograms of methamphetamine and 116 weapons. From January 1 to June 4, 31,000 fentanyl tablets, nine firearms, 38 kilograms of methamphetamine and $89,000 were seized, according to MHP.

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