Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver
(Golden, Colo.) During the first five months of 2022, law enforcement in Colorado seized over 2 million dosage units of fentanyl — more than was seized during 2022 and more than 331% up from 2021, according to data presented June 1 by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Colorado State Patrol, FBI Denver and Rocky Mountain HIDTA are warning Coloradoans that domestic demand for fentanyl is expanding, and the drug remains dangerous.
“While I would love to tell you that our troopers have eliminated the threat of this deadly drug, what we remove is a drop in the ocean,” said Col. Matthew C. Packard, Colorado State Patrol chief. “It's cheap, it's everywhere, including a strong counterfeit market where people think they are taking other forms of pills.”
Fentanyl is in all kinds of non-regulated drugs, said Col. Matthew C. Packard, Colorado State Patrol chief. The amount of fentanyl found in any single dose of an illicit drug varies widely, he said, and can lead to overdoses and deaths.
The volume of fentanyl seized by CSP has grown from 4,128 units in 2018 to 2.08 million so far this year, Packard said. Overdoses have also risen from 102 fentanyl-related overdoses reported in 2018 to 905 last year, according to Rocky Mountain HIDTA.
To help curb the supply, law enforcement and federal legal agencies are focusing on illicit fentanyl dealers. Last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado successfully prosecuted Bruce Holder, of Grand Junction, for distributing fentanyl resulting in death. He was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for selling pills appearing to be prescription opioids that led to a man’s death.
The office has since successfully prosecuted 14 other similar cases. Much of the drugs originate from Mexico or China, according to Lenny Carrollo, assistant to the special agent in charge of the FBI Denver Division.
Solutions for the issue, beyond prosecuting distributors, are far-ranging, said Col. Packard. He advocated for exploring all avenues possible in fighting the spread of illicit fentanyl.
- Office of Behavioral Health: https://cdhs.colorado.gov/behavioral-health
- Stop The Clock (where to get naloxone): https://www.stoptheclockcolorado.org/map
- How to recognize an overdose: https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/opioid-overdose
- SAMHSA's National Helpline: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov
- CDC 24/7 Saving Lives, Protecting people: https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/index.html
- DEA One Pill Can Kill Website: https://admin.dea.gov/onepill