Pennington County Sheriff’s Office declares opioid, fentanyl crisis

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FILE – This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence at a trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. Congress has voted to temporarily extend a sweeping tool that has helped federal agents crack down on drugs chemically similar to fentanyl. The Senate on Thursday, April 29, 2021, approved legislation extending until October an order that allows the federal government to classify so-called fentanyl analogues as Schedule I controlled substances. The drugs are generally foreign-made with a very close chemical makeup to the dangerous opioid. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP, File)

PENNINGTON COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — While overdose deaths increased by 30% nationwide in 2020, overdose deaths in South Dakota went down by 20%. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem with overdoses in the state, just that more people are being saved by Narcan.

Law Enforcement in Pennington County says it has seen a huge increase in illegal drugs on the streets of Rapid City and the surrounding area. In 2019, agents seized 12 grams of fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opioid, off the streets. That jumped to 128 grams in 2020 and 937 grams so far this year.

Both the Rapid City Fire and police departments carry Narcan and say they have noticed a dangerous upward trend in both fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

“Fentanyl and Opioids are a public safety threat to our city and county; they are dangerous and deadly,” Rapid City Police Chief Don Hedrick said. “Law enforcement is here to intervene when we can, however, we need the community’s help to interrupt the cycles of addiction affecting drug use in our community.”

“It’s time we as a community stand up against our local drug epidemic,” Pennington County Chief Deputy Brian Mueller said.

Mueller points to the Pennington County Care Campus as a good resource for inpatient and outpatient services and referrals. Law enforcement is calling on family and friends of those struggling with addiction, to help them get into treatment.

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