Law enforcement is using all means to fight the fentanyl crisis


From the beginning of 2022 to March 15, Montana Highway Patrol soldiers seized 12,079 fentanyl tablets, more than three times the total for all of 2021.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen points to the extreme danger fentanyl poses to individuals and how the numbers seem to indicate it’s the drug of choice right now.

“We’re seizing a lot of fentanyl on the highways in Montana,” Knudsen said, “We know there are really big shipments of fentanyl — and meth — but fentanyl in particular is crossing that southern border.”

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Capt. Joseph Swanson of the Bozeman Police Department describes trying to stay ahead of the fentanyl curve, in an effort to prevent overdoses or get the drug into the hands of children.

“It’s one of our new emerging trends. This is the reality, we are a growing community,” Cpt. said Swanson. “It’s something we do on a daily basis.”

Swanson notes that education and awareness are important, not just for the ministry and other agencies, but for communities as a whole.

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“If you see anything suspicious, if you see anything that looks like a drug deal or someone potentially under the influence,” Cpt. Swanson said: “Someone in the community who has a family member with addiction who can certainly have insight and impact on that person’s life more than any arrest.”

Service calls can be made anonymously.

A $300,000 grant through the Montana Department of Justice has been distributed statewide for agencies to acquire, recycle or replace K9 units – the K9 Stretch Officer being one such unit .

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“In all the years of fighting crime and fighting drugs that we’ve had in this country, there’s still no better tool than a dog’s nose,” Knudsen said.

K9 Officer Stretch is trained to detect cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin – and all their derivatives. According to the US Department of Justice, fentanyl is often used to adulterate cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin or other illicit drugs.

“He’s already indicated, I think, a few times that we had fentanyl,” K9 officer Braden Peterson said. “Much of it comes from counterfeit pills.”

Peterson notes that Stretch is very energetic and driven when he’s on the job.


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