COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CBS4) – Federal and local law enforcement officials in Colorado say the state is overrun with fentanyl. And it’s killing the Coloradans at an alarming rate.
“Overdose deaths in Colorado led every state in the country except Alaska,” 4 said.and Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen at a press conference Thursday.
Pulling out a bag of seized fentanyl pills, DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Besser said, “Each of these pills to me is a loaded bullet.”
Besser and Allen, along with U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado Cole Finegan, FBI Special Agent Michael Schneider and El Paso County law enforcement officials, spoke at a conference of press Thursday morning in Colorado Springs to warn the community that fentanyl is widespread and deadly.
They say it doesn’t kill who you think.
“The soccer mum. Your neighbor,” Besser said.
“We’re not talking about 55-year-old drug addicts for decades,” El Paso County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelley said. “We’re talking about kids making mistakes. It’s almost the definition of youth, we do stupid things. We’ve all been there, but we currently live in a world where children have a chance. »
From 2019 to 2020, Colorado saw a 54% increase in opioid-related overdose deaths; 540 were specifically for fentanyl.
Preliminary data from 2021 shows 896 fentanyl-related deaths, an increase of 66%. Police, firefighters and coroners say they saw it coming.
“It’s one of those times where I wish I was wrong.”
El Paso counter coroner Dr. Leon Kelly told CBS affiliate KKTV in September 2021 that his office had seen a sharp increase in fentanyl deaths. At the time, he predicted it would only get worse. In 2022, it seems his prophecy has come true.
“It’s one of those times when I wish I were wrong,” he said Thursday. “It’s here now, we live here every day.”
Law enforcement says they must warn everyone they are in danger. Even if you think you are not.
To illustrate the prevalence of fentanyl in Colorado, Besser pulled 20,000 pills from his briefcase that he says were seized two years ago.
“Two years ago, this DEA case would have been considered significant,” he said, pointing to the bags of pills. “The Front Range Task Force with the DEA seized 10 times that amount this week alone.”
Everyone from the Colorado Springs Police Department to the FBI and DEA says he is stepping up law enforcement and community outreach. They had a message to the drug dealers on Thursday: they’re coming.
“People peddling this poison are evil,” said Constable Besser.
They also said the most important thing people can do to protect themselves is to educate themselves about drugs and if you’re a parent, tell your kids about it because it’s in our schools. They said to keep an eye on their social media and ask tough questions.