Mexican drug cartels crossing the southern border are targeting the US state of Montana with fentanyl because officials say there is “huge profits” to be made there.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen told Fox News that the number of fentanyl-related deaths in the state has increased dramatically since 2020 and that intelligence information has shown drug cartels from Mexico are targeting Montana to boost their profits.
“Since 2020, our crime lab has confirmed that fentanyl-related deaths have increased by 1,100 percent,” Knudsen said June 22.
“We have specific cartel information that they are targeting Montana because they know they can make huge profits here by selling a product that costs them next to nothing to make,” Knudson added.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain, but it is also highly addictive.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has previously warned of dealers putting fentanyl in counterfeit prescription pills like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin, which are commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain but are also widely available among addicts.
Knudson told Fox that a blue M30 tablet (oxycodone pills) would sell for $10 to $15 in Phoenix, Denver, or Salt Lake City, but they can sell for about $100 in Montana because the state further from the border is away, meaning there is less availability or access to illegal drugs.
“You have to understand that the cartels in Mexico can make these fentanyl tablets for pennies on the dollar,” Knudsen said. “The cartels have an enormous profit motive.”
The attorney general added that law enforcement officials routinely find criminals traveling with up to 10,000 pills, an amount large enough to kill every man, woman and child in Montana.
Meanwhile, said Dr. Robert Sherrick, chief medical officer for Community Medical Services, which operates four opioid treatment centers in Montana and 46 others across the country, tells Fox that about 70 percent of patients who attend his centers have an opioid use disorder and test positive for fentanyl.
“If someone has a serious addiction [an] Opioid, be it fentanyl or any other opioid, they really need treatment. You have to be on medication,” Sherrick said, adding that people with a fentanyl addiction have a reduced chance of successfully completing rehab compared to other opioids due to fentanyl’s highly addictive nature.
According to data from the nonprofit group Families Against Fentanyl released in February, deaths from the drug have more than doubled in 30 states and more than tripled in 15 states in just two years.
The per capita rate of fentanyl deaths in 2021 was highest in West Virginia with 64.4 fentanyl deaths per 100,000 West Virginians, while Florida had the highest total number of fentanyl deaths in 2021 at 5,161.
Closely followed by California with a total of 5,123 deaths from fentanyl in the past year.
According to Families Against Fentanyl, fentanyl is now the number one killer of Americans ages 18 to 45.
Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale, a Republican, has previously pointed to the Biden administration’s failed immigration policy for boosting fentanyl sales in the state.
“Biden and the Democrats’ open borders policies have allowed fentanyl to flow across our borders and into our neighborhoods,” Rosendale said wrote on Twitter March. “As a result, Montana saw a sharp increase in fentanyl deaths. Our communities are less safe because of Biden’s failed leadership.”
The Biden administration has vowed to fight America’s fentanyl overdose epidemic through harm reduction programs, expanded treatments and disrupting drug dealers‘ supply chains.