Denver, CO

Grant jump-starts Denver Fentanyl Task Force

David Heitz

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Synthetic opioids nicknamed "blues" contain fentanyl and are ravaging the homeless community in Denver.Photo byDrug Enforcement Administration

The City and County of Denver has created a Fentanyl Task Force within the Police Department to investigate opioid deaths and disrupt the supply of the deadly drug.

“The Denver Police Department recognizes that the sales, distribution, and addiction to fentanyl is overtaking the illicit narcotics market,” city staff wrote in a memo to City Council. “The Denver Police Department Fentanyl Task Force will investigate fentanyl sales, distribution, and possession of fentanyl in Denver. The Denver Police Department Fentanyl Task Force will also investigate overdose deaths with the goal of future prosecution of fentanyl dealers and distributors.”

The City Council will vote Monday to accept a grant from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice for $627,005 for its fentanyl probe. “DPD investigations will be structured to specifically target the dealers and distributors of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids,” according to the memo. “The task force will utilize advanced equipment and techniques including but not limited to GPS trackers, aircraft surveillance, covert ‘pole’ cameras, confidential informants, undercover law enforcement operatives and other advanced investigative techniques. DPD will also use high technology forensic equipment to identify illicit narcotics to aid in prosecution.”

Grant pays for lab tech, equipment, software, training

The grant will pay for a chemistry laboratory technician, equipment, software, and
training/travel for the task force. “The Denver Police Department's goal with this new task force is to identify, focus, and target efforts for prosecuting the drug traffickers that plague our neighborhoods,” according to the memo. “The Denver Police Department will utilize the most effective investigative and prosecutorial avenues to convict and incarcerate dangerous criminal offenders.”

Synthetic opioids nicknamed "blues" contain fentanyl and are ravaging the homeless community in Denver. In 2022, every 38 hours someone died of a fentanyl overdose in Denver, according to Dr. Sterling McLarem of the Denver Medical Examiner's Office.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at NewsBreakDave@gmail.com

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