The Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation issued a statewide warning on Tuesday after eight people recently died of an overdose of fentanyl in 10 Montana counties.
KGVO News spoke to Bryan Lockerby, Administrator of the Division of Criminal Investigation at the Montana Department of Justice for details on a bulletin that was sent to every law enforcement agency in the state.
More People in Montana are Dying from Fentanyl Overdoses
“It’s very disturbing and very concerning,” began Lockerby. “We’ve been trying to do a better job of monitoring overdoses around our state for the last couple of years, develop some really good partnerships with emergency medical services, health, and human services, and local law enforcement, where everybody’s kind of reporting collectively and we can look at areas of concern where there might be some spikes and we’ve seen some in the past where some counties might have had some overdoses, but this is the first time we’ve seen 10 different counties affected with something this significant.”
From 5 to 8 Fentanyl Overdose Deaths in a Matter of 24 Hours
Lockerby said the alert dealt with actual overdoses of fentanyl throughout the state.
“We’re talking about overdoses, most likely folks that were brought back through Narcan, through successful intervention by emergency services, whether it’s medical or law enforcement,” he said. “Unfortunately, then we’ve got those people that didn’t come back through those fatalities, those people that passed away where now a loved one is longing for them, and they’ll never get them back. When we issued that report, there were five fatalities within 24 hours. There were three more now we’re at eight. So I mean, this is an endless cycle, and it’s a difficult challenge for everyone.”
Lockerby counted off the 10 counties that were the focus of the fentanyl overdose alert.
“The counties that we identified were Cascade, Flathead, Lake Missoula, Silverbow, Custer, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Ravalli, and Yellowstone. The age ranges of the people that were affected by these overdoses were between the ages of 19 and 66 years old. So, it’s non-discriminatory. Fentanyl doesn’t care and the dealer 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 with friends and loved ones who take the drugs.
“I think everyone owns a part of this as far as being a responsible citizen to our state and protecting other people,” he said. “I mean, we want to be good witnesses. Certainly, we want everyone to report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement. But I also think that we need a prevention piece. I think we need to have hard conversations with a possible family member or even a friend that we may suspect is dealing with substance abuse issues so we can intervene early. We have the courts trying to do their part with intervention. We all play a role in this educational part. The fact that we pushed out this alert has no impact, unless people like you, and people on social media, send this to other folks so that everybody gets the same consistent message. And we all feel like we’re playing a role in it.”
Anyone with information about such deadly drug activity is asked to contact their local law enforcement agency right away, or call the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation at (406) 444-3874 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.