Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Fentanyl numbers continue to climb in Montana, with new records sometimes doubling the previous years’ reports.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen was my guest on Monday’s Talk Back show, and his first comments were about the meteoric rise in fentanyl seizures and arrests. He looked back at the last two years.

AG Austin Knudsen Shared Fentanyl Seizure Numbers

“2022 was a record year,” began Knudsen. “We seized just over 185,000 dosage units that smashed previous records, and we just didn't think it could get any bigger. Unfortunately, we were wrong. In 2023 all of our task forces, including HIDTA, the High Intensity Drug Task Force areas. They seized over twice that amount in 2023. We were almost at 400,000 dosage units.”

Along with the fentanyl seizures, overdose deaths also rose dramatically.

Knudsen said the Number of Fentanyl Overdose Deaths also Rose

“We still continue to see the overdose numbers go up,” he said. “In 2023 it was confirmed, that Fentanyl overdose deaths were up. They weren't up huge, but they were up. We had 80 fentanyl overdose deaths confirmed by our state crime lab, so we continue to see fentanyl and that that continues to be our top priority with law enforcement at the Department of Justice.”

All that being said, Knudsen was optimistic about the future when it comes to Montana’s crime numbers.

READ MORE: Missoula Drug Bust: One Pound of Meth and 204 Fentanyl Pills

The Violent Crime Rate is Actually Dropping Off Slightly

“I'm really proud that after about a 12 year rise in violent crime in Montana, and pretty significant violent crime, it's actually dropped off since 2022,” he said. “Violent crime has been decreasing in Montana, so we're doing some things right. It's still too high. There's still way too much drug trafficking going on. Human trafficking is still a huge issue in the state. That's another big priority of mine. Kudos go to the legislature for passing some great new laws on that and on fentanyl dealing. So those are my top priorities, crime and drugs.”

Knudsen was also proud of his work with the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, with three new graduating classes each year joining local police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Montana Highway Patrol.

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Gallery Credit: Elisa Fernández-Arias

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