Troopers warn of increase in fentanyl deaths

    Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) The synthetic opioid fentanyl continues to cause more deaths in Alaska.

    Alaska State Trooper Capt. Michael Duxbury said fentanyl is by far the biggest concern of law enforcement.  There were at least two dozen fentanyl-related deaths last year, compared with only five in 2016.  Opioids played a role in 96 of Alaska's 128 overdose deaths last year.

    In Alaska, fentanyl has been used as a cutting agent for heroin, a lower cost drug.  Only a small amount of fentanyl can kill.  Authorities recently seized 25 grams of the drug on the black market.  That amount had the potential to kill 12,500 people.

    Troopers also have to deal with budget challenges, staff shortages, and the lack of applicants wanting to enter law enforcement.  Many of the drugs that come to Alaska come by ferry. 

    Gov. Bill Walker last year declared a public health disaster due to the opioid problems.

    Duxbury says dealing with the state's opioid crisis presents challenges amid state budget cuts, trooper staff shortages and criminal justice reform.

     

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