Exclusive — Montana AG Austin Knudsen Calls on Biden to Declare Fentanyl a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Then-state Rep. Austin Knudsen (R-Culbertson) speaks about the impact of the failure to pass an infrastructure bill for eastern Montana communities affected by the Bakken oil boom, Tuesday, April 26, 2015, after the Legislature adjourned three days early in Helena, Montana. (Lisa Baumann/AP) Inset: Fentanyl overdose (Ben Margot, File/AP)
Lisa Baumann, Ben Margot, File/AP

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and 17 other state attorneys general sent a letter to President Joe Biden on September 14 urging the administration to declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction.

Fentanyl is “the biggest threat to Montana and probably the country,” Knudsen told Breitbart News.

“The rationale is that Montana has absolutely been flooded with this poison,” Knudsen said. “Our confirmed fentanyl deaths have absolutely skyrocketed, our investigations have absolutely skyrocketed, and by skyrocketed, I mean over 1,000 percent,” he added, referencing Montana Department of Justice (DOJ) data that indicated the number of fentanyl-related deaths has increased by 1,100 percent since 2017, with seizures of fentanyl having increased at a similar rate.

FILE - In this April 26, 2018, file photo, a man lies on the sidewalk beside a recyclable trash bin in San Francisco. A record 621 people died of drug overdoses in San Francisco so far this year, a staggering number that far outpaces the 173 deaths from COVID-19 the city has seen thus far. The crisis fueled by the powerful painkiller fentanyl could have been far worse if it wasn't for the nearly 3,000 times Narcan was used from January to the beginning of November to save someone from the brink of death, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020.

(Ben Margot, File/AP)

You can tell when a new bad shipment has hit the state or an area of the state because we’ll have a rash of overdoses,” he said, highlighting the strain inflows of fentanyl have placed on law enforcement and emergency services. Opioid overdoses, he noted, have become the leading cause of death for adults 18-45, and fentanyl is a significant driver of this trend.

It’s the number one product that the cartels are pushing here,” he said, describing the drug cartels as “terrorist organizations” and identifying China as the top manufacturer of the drug.

Knudsen noted that states have increasingly had to shoulder the burden of border security and drug enforcement efforts, as the Biden administration’s ideological commitments have prevented it from taking action on these issues.

“Look at a state like Texas that just appropriated $4 billion for their own border enforcement, a job the federal government is supposed to be doing for them.”

Asked about the joint letter with other state attorneys general, Knudsen said, “We had to… We know where 100% of these illicit drugs in the fentanyl trade are coming from, and [federal officials] are not doing their job. This is not long division.” 

“A lot of us talk. … This is not just a Montana thing by any stretch of the imagination.” 

You can follow Michael Foster on Twitter at @realmfoster.


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