Montana issues shocking fentanyl warning after 8 overdose deaths

Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) — The Montana Department of Justice Criminal Investigation Department issued a statewide alert Tuesday after eight people in 10 Montana counties recently died from a fentanyl overdose.

KGVO News spoke to Bryan Lockerby, Administrator of the Montana Department of Justice’s Criminal Investigations Division, for details on a bulletin sent to all law enforcement agencies in the state.

More and more people in Montana are dying from fentanyl overdoses

“It’s very unsettling and very worrying,” Lockerby began. “We’ve been trying to better monitor overdoses in our state over the past few years, building some really good partnerships with emergency services, health and social services and local law enforcement where everyone kind of reports collectively and we can look at areas of concern where there could be some spikes and we’ve seen some in the past where some counties have had some overdoses, but this is the first time we’ve seen 10 different counties impacted by something that matters.”

5 to 8 fentanyl overdose deaths in 24 hours

Lockerby said the alert addressed actual fentanyl overdoses statewide.

“We’re talking about overdoses, most likely from people brought back by narcan, through successful intervention by emergency services, be it medical or police,” he said. “Unfortunately, then we have these people who have not come back from these deaths, these people who have died where now a loved one is longing for them and they will never get them back. When we published this report, there were five deaths within 24 hours. There were three more, now we’re at eight. I mean, it’s an endless cycle and a difficult challenge for everyone.”

Lockerby listed the 10 counties that were the focus of the fentanyl overdose alert.

“The counties we identified were Cascade, Flathead, Lake Missoula, Silverbow, Custer, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Ravalli, and Yellowstone. The age groups of those affected by these overdoses ranged from 19 to 66 years. So it’s not discriminatory. Fentanyl doesn’t care and the retailer doesn’t care.”

Missoula, Ravalli and Lake Counties are on that list

Lockerby stated that every Montanan must step up and do whatever is necessary to try to end the scourge of fentanyl overdoses and deaths, including speaking directly to friends and family who are taking the drugs.

“I think everyone has a part in being a responsible citizen of our state and protecting other people,” he said. “I mean, we want to be good witnesses. Of course, we want everyone to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. But I also think we need a prevention piece. I think we need to have tough conversations with a possible family member or even a friend who we suspect may be dealing with drug issues so we can intervene early. We have the courts trying to do their part with interventions. We all have a role to play in this educational part. The fact that we posted this warning has no impact unless people like you and people on social media send it to other people so everyone gets the same consistent message. And we all feel that we have a part to play in that.”

Anyone with information regarding such deadly drug activity is asked to immediately contact their local law enforcement agency or call the Montana Department of Justice Criminal Investigation Department at (406) 444-3874 or email [email protected]

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