SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You might be surprised to hear that almost 3 dozen people were poisoned and died in Minnehaha county just in the last year. Sheriff Mike Milstead says most of those poisonings involved the drug fentanyl.

The county has seen a 40-percent increase in overdose deaths and the Sheriff told county commissioners today that if people aren’t careful the trend will continue.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Think about this, the average aspirin is 325 milligrams, only 2 milligrams of fentanyl can kill you. In the past year, 35 people have lost their lives to overdoses in Minnehaha County and most of those are opioid related. When it comes to fentanyl deaths, Sheriff Milstead doesn’t mince words.

“These are not overdoses, these are poisonings,” he told commissioners.

Milstead says Fentanyl is manufactured in China and most of it makes its way to the U.S. through the Mexican drug cartels who make it into pills that look like other common prescription drugs.

Last year the DEA seized 20 million counterfeit fentanyl pills in the U.S.

“Two out of every five were lethal doses, I had a mother talk to me just the other day, who lost her daughter to a fentanyl overdose and she was struggling to try to understand why didn’t the other person that was using drugs at the same time in the same home, why didn’t that person die? And it’s probably because he got one of the good pills out of the five and she got a lethal dose,” said Milstead.

The drug cartels know that these are often lethal doses but they continue to flood these drugs into our country. Milstead says this is a huge issue for the county and more lives will be lost.

“If you know somebody or somebody listening knows somebody who is struggling with an addiction to these types of drugs get them help,” said Milstead

Milstead believes stopping drug smuggling into the U.S. from Mexico is the key to stopping the fentanyl crisis.