BILLINGS – Speaking directly to Montana law enforcement during an appearance Friday in Billings, U.S. Attorney General said America is experiencing the deadliest drug crisis in American history.
"There can be no doubt really that this is the deadliest drug crisis in our nation’s history. We had a lot of drugs in the 70s and 80s but nothing like the death-dealing drugs we have today," said Sessions. "Approximately 64,000 people died in 2016 of overdose deaths and that represents the largest cause of death for Americans age 50 or below."
Sessions spoke to members of local, state and federal law enforcement about the nation’s growing drug issue, and focused on Montana.
"Meth violations in this state rose by more than 400 percent between 2010 and 2015," said Sessions. "Meanwhile, heroin violations increased 1,500 percent."
Sessions provided three examples of drug-related deaths in Montana, including the death of 13-month-old Kenzley Olson who was beaten to death in Poplar by a woman who was high on meth.
"That includes Natalie Dietrich, a student at Montana State, who was given a synthetic opioid at a concert in Bozeman," said Sessions. "She was an economics student, she had a promising life ahead of her. But now that’s a future we will never see."
Sessions said much of drug issue is found on the reservations.
"According to one report, Native Americans had the highest drug overdose death rates of all in 2015," said Sessions.
Crow Tribal Chairman AJ Not Afraid, who attended the speech, responded in an interview with Q2 by saying the drug abuse issue on the reservation is directly related to jobs.
"With the reduction in coal, revenue and jobs, it’s kind of a domino effect," said Not Afraid. "And we’re seeing the street peddlers recruit people who are out of a job, we’re seeing the peddlers look forward to helping the unemployed gain an easy buck."
Sessions said the Department of Justice plans to crack down on dealers and doctors, while cutting back opioid prescriptions by a third over the next three years.
"We’re gonna target those doctors, we have a plan to do that, we have a computer system that targets the outliers," said Sessions. "We will not accept that."
Before his visit to Billings, Sessions spoke in North Dakota, where he announced a federal indictment involving an international drug trafficking case would be unsealed.
In that case, four Chinese nationals allegedly trafficked the powerful pain killer Fentanyl in 11 states from Oregon to Ohio to Florida.