NewsCovering Colorado


No-one immune: Fentanyl crisis getting worse in El Paso County

Posted at 8:50 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 23:29:33-04

EL PASO COUNTY — Terms like crisis, epidemic, and deadly were used over and over during a roundtable discussion about the growing issue of fentanyl in Southern Colorado.

Congressman Doug Lamborn along with leaders at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office brought together lawmakers, law enforcement, and health care leaders, in an effort to collaborate on solutions to the rapidly expanding problem.

“ In my case it’s legislation,” said Lamborn, “Whether it’s education, whether it’s treatment.”

The group discussed tougher laws, concerns for the safety of first responders, and most of all they want the public better informed about the threat to everyone.

“It’s probably the most dangerous drug that’s ever hit our communities,” said El Paso County District Attorney, Michael Allen, “Small amounts can kill people.”

“Down in little old Manitou we have it,” said Manitou Springs Police Chief, Bill Otto, “Our cops come across it probably weekly.”

Whether a large or small community law enforcement leaders are commonly encountering Fentanyl.

“Palmer Lake, we’re not exempt from this,” said Palmer Lake Police Chief, Jason Vanderpool.

Fountain Police Chief, Christopher Heberer expressed concern that youth do not grasp the danger posed by fentanyl.

“They’re still doing pill parties,” said Heberer, “We had one three months ago that we got tipped off to in the city of Fountain and I thank God every day that we were able to get there before because that could’ve put us on the national news with ten kids dead.”

The number of people dying from fentanyl or a synthetic version of it is on the rise.

“Five years ago, 2017, five total fentanyl deaths,” said El Paso County Coroner, Dr. Leon Kelly, ”Last year we had 99 fentanyl overdose deaths, then we had two fentanyl associated suicides, so we are now over 100.”

Law enforcement sees fentanyl as a much greater threat than any other drug they face. They say it is more easily trafficked because of the way it is disguised or hidden in pills. It means someone may not know what they taking. It is also cheap with some pills selling for a couple of bucks. That is scary because junior high and high school age kids have that kind of money.

“Part of us combatting fentanyl is awareness,” said El Paso County Undersheriff, Joe Roybal, “We cannot do this alone. We’re reaching out to families to educate their children, educate their loved ones.” A message expressed multiple times is that every single person in the community needs to know the threat that is happening.


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