BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – One pill can kill. That’s how the state continues its efforts against the fentanyl crisis. Fentanyl, an illegal synthetic opioid nearly 100 times stronger than morphine, has been linked to hundreds of overdose deaths across the country. Addiction can create a market that attracts drug dealers to North Dakota communities. That’s why task force agents in the state target dealers and smugglers to limit supply.
“These other pills are actually fentanyl,” the task force agent said as he pointed to a light blue pill evidence bag.
Fentanyl is seized by narcotics agents in North Dakota every day.
“Five or six years ago, it was just real oxys that we were seeing a lot of, and then it’s gotten to where I don’t think we’ve seen real oxys in a long time. It’s thousands and thousands of pills every month, “said the agent.
“We are following trends and trying to work smarter and more efficiently. But also, I mean, the amount of drugs coming into North Dakota is out of control right now,” said a second task force agent.
Seized material is securely stored, tested and accounted for.
“Thousands and thousands at a time that counting every single pill would be too inefficient for our time,” said the second agent.
Starting this year, calculations will be done through pharmaceutical pill counters.
But pills are far more dangerous than prescription drugs.
“They are produced in secret laboratories of other countries. The process they use is not as precise as it should be to mix any drugs,” said the first agent.
Agents keep Narcan, an opioid overdose treatment drug, on hand in case they accidentally come across drugs while processing. Two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, but many of these drugs contain two to five milligrams of fentanyl powder. That’s why agents work to stop dealers and traffickers and protect members of the public.
“Our goal, after all, is to protect human life above all else, and every time we can take 1,000 or 5,000 or so of these drugs off the streets. We definitely saved some lives. “
Task force agents expect to seize more than 40,000 fentanyl pills this year alone.
Efforts to reduce fentanyl exposure in North Dakota don’t stop with law enforcement. Others are working in the community to address the demand with resources that go toward remedial and preventive education. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the state’s addiction helpline can be reached at 1-800-472-2911.
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