BOZEMAN — Governor Greg Gianforte says fentanyl is a "serious, serious problem" in Montana.
Gianforte hosted a press conference in Gallatin County with officials and law enforcement on the fentanyl crisis in Montana on Friday.
The press conference featured remarks by U.S. Senator Steve Daines, Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Gallatin County Sheriff Dan Springer, Montana Highway Patrol Colonel Steve Lavin, and Administrator of the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation Bryan Lockerby, as well as the governor.
According to the Montana Department of Justice, law enforcement in Montana has seized nearly twice the amount of fentanyl in the first six months of 2022 than the previous three years combined. Deaths due to fentanyl have also increased in Montana. Data from the state crime lab shows fentanyl-linked fatal overdoses are up 1100% since 2017.
Watch the press conference below:
Nationwide, fentanyl activity is on the rise as the drug is pushed across the U.S. southern border and into the interior by Mexican drug cartels. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Mexican cartels are increasingly manufacturing fentanyl for distribution and sale in the United States. Precursors are imported from China and other countries and then pressed into pills, powder, or mixed into other drugs at massive, industrial-scale labs.”
In July, U.S. Customs and Border Protection observed a 200% increase in fentanyl seizures over the previous month, as the U.S. Department of Justice declared San Diego ports of entry as a national epicenter for fentanyl trafficking. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has stated fentanyl is “driving the nationwide overdose epidemic.”
In a press release, Gianforte stated to bring an end to the public health and national security crisis at the southern border, he and other governors last fall outlined ten commonsense steps for the Biden administration to take to secure the border. The governors’ request has gone unanswered.
According to the release, absent federal action, Gov. Gianforte this spring joined the American Governors’ Border Strike Force, a collaborative effort among 26 states to secure the border. Among other focuses, the strike force is working to improve coordination and communication to combat drug trafficking.