Police Warn of Fentanyl Crisis in Utah

(TargetDailyNews.com) – Law enforcement officials in Utah warned state lawmakers this week that fentanyl has become more affordable and prevalent in the state, Deseret reported.

In a Monday meeting of the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee, members of the Utah Department of Public Safety presented “alarming data” showing the rise in fentanyl in the state over the last few years.

According to Tanner Jensen, the director of the Public Safety Department’s statewide information and analysis center, fentanyl has become the “greatest drug threat in Utah,” increasingly showing up in drug seizures and fueling overdose deaths.

The influx in fentanyl has likely contributed to a decline in black market prices. According to state data, fentanyl costs between $25-$30 a pill in 2018. But in 2022, the price for a single pill dropped to a five-year low of between $5-$12. Today, a single dose has reached a historic low of $2 or less, according to Tanner Jensen.

Between 2018 and 2021, Utah law enforcement seized 496,870 doses of fentanyl. In 2021 alone, the total was 328,183 doses.

But in 2022, the seizures skyrocketed to 1,485,355, more than doubling the combined total seized in the previous four years.

During the same time, fentanyl overdose deaths increased. In 2018, fentanyl accounted for only 8 percent of overdose deaths in Utah. By 2022, fentanyl was responsible for 33 percent of overdose deaths, surpassing the deaths due to heroin or prescription drugs. By last year, fentanyl was the second deadliest drug in Utah after methamphetamine.

Drug intelligence officer Bill Newell told state lawmakers that the flow of fentanyl in the state comes from drug cartels and criminal groups in Mexico. Given the two major interstates passing through Utah in the Mountain West, it has become a drug smuggling hotbed, Newell said.

As the sheer volume of fentanyl increases, Utah law enforcement now measures drug seizures, not by the number of pills but by the weight.

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