BOZEMAN, Mont — Officials report a shocking increase in fentanyl seizures in Montana -- up nearly 11,000% since 2019.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen says authorities are concerned about a new form of fentanyl they’re seeing in the state.
“If it's in a powder form or if it's crushed up, because usually we find it in a tablet form. If that gets put into the air and kind of an aerosol of any kind and it's breathed in, that can be almost immediately fatal. That'll put an officer down and put them into respiratory arrest very, very quickly,” Knudsen said.
The attorney general says in the last couple of months they've seen new shipments of fentanyl in a powder form. He calls it frightening.
“We thought it was cocaine. And it wasn't until we had it tested by the state crime lab that we realized -- oh man, this is fentanyl, and this is something new. That's incredibly dangerous for law enforcement. If you just open that bag or handle that bag, if that powder gets in the air and you breathe it in, it can be lethal,” Knudsen said.
He believes there is a way to best combat the problem.
“First and foremost, someone to actually get serious about the southern border and our immigration policies and our security policies down there, that would fix this hugely. As far as what we are doing here in Montana, I mean, education,” Knudsen said.
That means education that fentanyl might be mixed with anything, but a dose as small as 2 milligrams can be lethal. And warning kids when it comes to drugs, if it didn't come from a pharmacist and does not have your name on it, do not take it.
“This is happening in Montana. This stuff is here. This is not a Los Angeles problem. This is not a big city problem. This is not a New York problem. This is happening right here in Montana,” Knudsen said.
Local law enforcement agencies say if you suspect an overdose or notice someone not acting right, call 911 immediately.
“Make an impact before it's too late. Because really, what we're seeing is many of these overdoses can be fatal. We've seen this across the country, we've had some of those happen here locally in the past. It really doesn't take much. And certainly, if no one's around and we can't get medical resources, law enforcement to respond -- again, that survivability rate unfortunately decreases,” Bozeman Police Patrol Captain Joseph Swanson said.