New outreach program aims to spread awareness about fentanyl crisis in Eastern Washington

Communities of color see rapid increase in fentanyl deaths

SPOKANE, Wash. — Law enforcement authorities and local political leaders are teaming up to launch a new initiative aimed at curbing the fentanyl crisis in Eastern Washington.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Spokane Police Department, announced the Opioid Fentanyl Outreach Project.

The project is aimed at addressing public safety and public health threats caused by the influx of deadly fentanyl into Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Yakima. The initiative has a multi-pronged approach with the focus on educating communities and directing resources through community outreach and prevention efforts.

According to the CDC, more than 71,000 Americans died from drug overdoes in 2019. More than half of those were attributed to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

“Alarmingly, DEA seizures of fentanyl in Eastern Washington have increased almost 200 percent over the 2019 to 2020 time period,” said DEA Special Agent Keith Weis.

“Our communities, our residents, our parents and our youth are all faced with the growing and continued influx of deadly fentanyl into Eastern Washington,” said U.S. Attorney William Hylsop. “Very small amounts in a fentanyl-laced pill can kill a person. We are now seeing it here in Spokane, and sadly, we are now witnessing deaths in our high school and young adult populations.”

Community members, law enforcement and educational leaders are working on plans to address the crisis through media, town halls and other presentations, like community forums and parent discussions.

More resources can be found here. Additionally, National Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday. Anyone who needs to get rid of prescription drugs can drop them off in the drive-through parking lot of the Boy Scouts of America, Inland Northwest Council in Spokane. The drug take back site will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.