SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek said Tuesday she has directed state police to launch new strategies aimed at disrupting the fentanyl supply chain and holding sellers of the frequently deadly drug accountable.
Kotek said in a statement that she made the announcement at a Tuesday meeting of her task force created to revitalize downtown Portland.
“I want all Oregonians to know that the state is moving forward with several new fentanyl strategic enforcement and disruption strategies,” Kotek’s statement said.
The plans include increasing and reallocating state police staff to local drug enforcement teams, holding trainings with the Oregon Department of Justice to address potential biases and avoid unlawful searches, and leading interagency patrols that emphasize intercepting fentanyl using drug dogs and detectives, Kotek said.
She said a pilot project using a data-driven approach to identifying drug- and alcohol-impaired drivers would also be extended.
During one weekend in May, at least eight people in Portland died of suspected drug overdoses, according to the city’s police bureau. Six of the deaths were likely related to fentanyl, police said.
So far this year, the Oregon State Patrol has seized nearly 233,000 fentanyl pills and 62 pounds of powder, the statement said.
“As we work to cut the supply of fentanyl and hold dealers accountable for selling dangerous drugs, I also remain fully committed to expanding access to critical behavioral health services,” Kotek said.
No details about expanding access to health services were released.
A synthetic opioid, fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49. More than 100,000 deaths a year in the U.S. have been tied to drug overdoses since 2020, and about two-thirds of those are related to fentanyl.
Illegally made fentanyl is often added to other drugs, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, to increase its potency. Some people are not aware they are taking it.
At the Family Summit on Fentanyl in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a speech that the U.S. Justice Department is sending out about $345 million in federal funding in the next year, including money to support mentoring young people at risk and increasing access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.