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

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HELENA – Attorney General Austin Knudsen issued the following statement on Fentanyl Awareness Day warning Montanans of the dangerous drug:

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.