Leaders Hold Fentanyl Roundtable Amid Nationwide Crisis
Fentanyl is a major problem, and we should support our representatives when they take it on.
From The Center Square. Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, held a roundtable Tuesday to discuss the threat of fentanyl trafficking in the region.
Seated at the table in Spokane were families who had lost a loved one to a fentanyl overdose, law enforcement officials and treatment providers.
“I appreciate all of you coming together. It’s not the subject we would want to have bring us all together, but it’s an important issue,” said McMorris Rodgers, who serves the Fifth Congressional District.
She said with fentanyl now the top killer of 18 to 45-year-olds across the nation, it was time for all communities to take action.
She said fentanyl seizures in Spokane County had increased 1,100% in recent years, which was also alarming….
She noted that fentanyl distribution and overdose rates in Spokane County were high enough that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had recently launched Operation Engage. That initiative will use a comprehensive community approach to wage a war against the synthetic opioid.
Spokane County is one of 11 sites getting a special DEA focus. It has been identified as a prime hub for narcotics distribution due to its location on Interstate 90 and proximity to Canada….
The DEA is working to create a partnership between the agency, schools, faith-based organizations, social service providers and other community organizations to stop the drug epidemic in Spokane County….
[Bill Hyslop, former U.S. attorney] said fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. The drug, he said, was coming into the United States via the southern border.
There had been more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. within the last year, a record, and 64% were attributed to fentanyl, he said.
Fentanyl is cut with other drugs to make them more powerful, and pressed into authentic-looking pills that hides its deadly potential, he said.
Records from the Washington Department of Health show more than a 186% increase in fentanyl-related overdoses in Spokane County between 2020 and 2021, and a 1,233% increase in these overdoses in the three years prior….
[Hyslop] explained that 2 milligrams of fentanyl was enough to kill a person. To put that into perspective, he said a packet of sugar commonly found at restaurants contained the equivalent of 400 lethal doses of the drug….
Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl said authorities were trying to focus on arresting drug dealers to stop trafficking of opioids. However, he said having the Washington Supreme Court toss the ability to arrest people for simple drug possession a couple of years ago had made that more difficult.
Those arrested for drugs frequently provided valuable information to use in apprehending dealers, which was no longer available….
Spokane Police Lt. Rob Boothe said last year the street price of a fentanyl-laced tablet was about $25, but the drug had become so plentiful that it now sold for $4.50 to $6.
Where it was once significant to arrest someone in possession of 10 pills, he said officers were now routinely finding thousands during routine traffic stops….
Spokane County Undersheriff John Nowels said deputies, like city officers, were exhausting the supply of Narcan provided by the health district to help provide treatment of suspected overdoses. He said lives were being saved by these actions….
McMorris Rodgers asked if addiction rates were tied to some societal change. She wanted to know if the worsening situation could be tied to the COVID-19 pandemic isolation and restrictions.
[Dr. Francisco Velazquez of the Spokane Regional Health Department] said it was too soon to know what effects the pandemic had on individuals and families. He requested that federal resources be allocated for transportation and other support services that could get people the help they needed.
The roundtable discussion also centered on the human element of addiction. Three families who had lost loved ones to fentanyl told their stories and shared insights….
How are you praying for our nation during this drug crisis? Share this article to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl.
(Excerpt from The Center Square. Photo Credit: Canva)
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