Fighting Fentanyl, protecting Idaho communities

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The scourge of fentanyl continues to plague our state and nation. Now, national studies show the Western U.S. is being hit the worst - particularly by pills containing fentanyl.

70% of fake pills with fentanyl contain a lethal dose.

Since I took office, we've equipped Idaho law enforcement with more tools and training to get these deadly drugs off our streets. Other actions we've taken to fight fentanyl and the devastating effects of other dangerous, lethal drugs include:

Launched the Fentanyl Takes All educational awareness campaign to inform Idahoans, especially our youth and their parents.

Added more roadside testing equipment

Created a new statewide drug interdiction team at the Idaho State Police to intercept fentanyl coming into our state

Improved information sharing between law enforcement, first responders, health care, tribes, coroners, and other key groups to tack the problem strategically

Increased statewide access to mental and behavioral health resources

Partnered with border states to reduce the supply of drugs brought into the U.S. by drug cartels

Law enforcement seizing a lot more fentanyl pills, especially in West, study says

"There’s been a dramatic spike in the number of fentanyl pills seized by law enforcement across the United States, especially in the West, according to a new study that looks at the past six years.

The study, released by experts at New York University and the University of Florida in the International Journal of Drug Policy, found the percentage of fentanyl seizures in pill form nationwide increased from 10.3% in 2017 to 49% in 2023. Last year, more than 115 million pills were seized, compared to over 71 million in 2022.

In Idaho, the percentage of fentanyl seizures in pill form was 87.6% in 2023, the study found. The study found that Idaho reported 250 fentanyl seizures by law enforcement around the state that year.

During the 2024 Idaho legislative session, the Idaho House and Senate passed — and Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed into law — House Bill 406. The legislation will implement mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl traffickers.

The opioid epidemic has historically hit eastern states hardest, but appears to be worsening in the West.

California appears to be driving the high numbers among the 13 states in the West: The state saw the largest number of pills seized, at nearly 40 million, followed by Arizona, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, where 3.8 million pills were seized in 2023.

More fentanyl being seized in the West is “likely due to its proximity to the Mexican border,” the study authors write. Declining availability of heroin in the West may also be turning people who use drugs to fentanyl, according to the researchers."

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