SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Nearly 97,000 drug overdose deaths were reported in the U.S. from March of 2020-2021.
That’s according to new provisional information from the CDC.
South Dakota was just one of three states that saw a decrease in reported drug overdoses with 77 in the 12-month period. A former DEA agent says these tragedies will continue if more isn’t done to stop illegal drugs from coming into the U.S.
When Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead met with law enforcement who work near the U.S. Mexico border about two months ago, they shared this message.
“They looked at us and said, ‘Look, these drugs are coming to your county. They’re not staying in ours,'” Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said.
Milstead says drugs getting across the southern border include counterfeit pills.
“These counterfeit pills, quite frankly, many of them have lethal doses. It only takes two milligrams of fentanyl to be a lethal dose. And these aren’t made by rocket scientists. These aren’t made by chemists and engineers,” Milstead said.
Jeffrey Stamm is the executive director of the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
He also worked for the DEA for more than three decades.
“Right now, we’re being overwhelmed with the availability of drugs, not just fentanyl, but cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, as well as heroine. Most of which, all of which, aside from some domestic marijuana, is coming from Mexico,” Midwest HIDTA executive director Jeffrey Stamm said.
Stamm says drug cartels use a variety of ways to get drugs across the border.
“They are extremely adept at coming up with ingenious ways to hide drugs in commercial cargo. It is also coming across with illegal immigrants carrying drugs in backpacks, it’s coming across via fast boats,” Stamm said.
And he says the impact travels all the way to KELOLAND.
“This problem will continue to escalate until we get a handle on shutting down the flow of drugs across the border as well as drug cartel members who come across the border, setting up shop in Rapid City, Sioux Falls, all across the state of South Dakota,” Stamm said.
While Milstead says a vast majority of illegal drugs are traveling across the southern border, he says most of the chemicals in the counterfeit pills containing fentanyl come from China.