Colorado fentanyl seizures this year already surpass all of last year, authorities say

Colorado authorities seized more fentanyl so far in 2022 than in all of 2021, the Justice Department said

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Colorado authorities are seeing more fentanyl on the streets in the first months of 2022 than they did all of last year as a new law slated to take effect would bring stiffer penalties for those who deal and possess the drug. 

Law enforcement officials from across the state gathered Wednesday to reveal that more than 2 million dosages of fentanyl units were seized from January through May so far. 

"We appreciate the work law enforcement is doing to take this deadly poison off our streets. We also need the help of the public in ending the demand for it. It is risky to take any drug not prescribed by a doctor and obtained from a pharmacy," warned U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan said in a statement provided by the Justice Department. 

The presence of fentanyl is becoming more common as authorities take aggressive action against traffickers

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The Colorado State Patrol seized more than 131,000 dosage units of fentanyl on March 18. The state has seen more fentanyl seizures in the first five months of 2022 than in all of last year, officials said Wednesday. 

The Colorado State Patrol seized more than 131,000 dosage units of fentanyl on March 18. The state has seen more fentanyl seizures in the first five months of 2022 than in all of last year, officials said Wednesday.  (Justice Department)

Statewide, fentanyl-related fatal overdoses numbered 905 in 2021, compared to 540 in 2020. In 2017, the state reported 81 such overdoses. 

"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, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "It's cheap, it's everywhere, including a strong counterfeit market where people think they are taking other forms of pills. If you have a loved one struggling with any form of drug abuse, get them help."  

Federal prosecutors in Colorado will work with law enforcement agencies at the two-day Colorado Fentanyl Summit being held Thursday and Friday. 

The gathering is being hosted by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and state Attorney General Phil Weiser.

A bag of containing $85,000 worth of fentanyl pills that was taken by the U.S. Border Patrol.

A bag of containing $85,000 worth of fentanyl pills that was taken by the U.S. Border Patrol. (Twitter/@USBPChiefTCA)

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It focuses on training for authorities on all aspects of fentanyl from investigation and building cases through interdiction and prosecution. 

Last week, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, signed a bill into the law that will heighten felony charges for substances containing fentanyl, among other measures.