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Attorney General Knudsen, DEA Host Montana Family Summit

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Rocky Mountain Field Division, hosted a Family Summit Wednesday, April 10, in Billings to support Montanans who have lost loved ones to the drug overdose epidemic.

Over a dozen families from across Montana attended the summit where they learned more about what local, state and federal leaders are doing to combat the drug crisis plaguing Montana communities. The families also had the opportunity to share their thoughts with officials on how fentanyl is impacting the Montana communities and what prevention, education, treatment and enforcement efforts could help fight the epidemic.

“I’m thankful to the families who shared their stories today. I will continue to do everything I can as attorney general to combat the drug crisis in Montana for the parents, siblings, grandparents and friends who have lost a loved one to an overdose, and to keep it from happening to anyone else,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “These conversations are hard to have, but what we learned today can help us develop solutions to help keep drugs off the street and ultimately save lives.”

“The most recent numbers from the CDC reveal an estimated 112,323 Americans died due to a drug overdose or poisoning for the 12-months ending June 2023, and the State of Montana has not been immune from this national epidemic,” DEA Rocky Mountain Field Division Acting Special Agent in Charge David Olesky said. “This is our second Family Summit here in Montana. It is an opportunity for those of us in law enforcement to hear from the families who have most felt the pain of this epidemic and to let them know that they and their loved ones are not forgotten.”

“I am grateful to the families who courageously shared their deeply personal stories of losing a loved one to a drug overdose and how the scourge of fentanyl has affected their lives. Our office continues to prioritize pursuing and prosecuting drug traffickers who are bringing this poison into our communities and to our Indian reservations and, while we have had recent success with those efforts, our work continues. The families we met with today deserve nothing less,” U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

The families heard from narcotics officers and officials from the Montana Department of Justice, prosecutors and prevention and advocacy experts. The discussions centered around ways to increase awareness around the dangers associated with fentanyl and what is being done to stop the fentanyl overdose crisis.

Fentanyl-linked deaths continue to trend upward in Montana. The State Crime Lab has preliminarily reported 80 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in 2023 — an increase of 1,900 percent from 2017 when there were just four. This number does not reflect the entire statewide total, as the crime lab only verifies deaths that involve an autopsy. More fentanyl than ever before is also being seized off the streets in the states, the Department of Justice announced that more than 398,000 doses of fentanyl were seized in 2023. That’s a 111 percent increase from 2022, and a nearly 600 percent increase from 2021.

Visit the DEA’s website at for resources that can help parents and caregivers talk to kids about the dangers of drug use or visit the Get Smart About Drugs website at https://www. Visit DEA’s Recovery Resources page at https://www. for a list of resources to help with substance use or mental health disorders.

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