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Tulsa County DA says law enforcement facing 'fentanyl crisis' due to lack of regulation at border

fentanyl bust_TPD
A photo of what Tulsa police say is the largest fentanyl bust in the department's history including, 11 pounds of fentanyl, several pounds of meth, more than 140 grams of heroin, $7,000 in cash, and several firearms. Provided by the Tulsa Police Department on August 15, 2022.

A Tulsa County prosecutor said area law enforcement agencies are facing a crisis when it comes to getting fentanyl off the streets as officials continue to see a rise in prosecutions for the deadly drug.

In 2021, the Eastern District of Oklahoma prosecuted 28 fentanyl-related cases. By the first of this month, that number had already doubled to 56.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said the unprecedented rise in fentanyl can be attributed to a lack of regulation at the United States' southern border.

He said most of the fentanyl officials are seeing comes through Mexico and into Oklahoma on its way to different parts of the country.

"Until we figure out a way to secure out southern border, the effect of all thigs that are associated with an unregulated border are pouring into our country. One of those is drug cartels who have figured a fairly good delivery system," explained Kunzweiler.

According to Kunzweiler, drug cartels are bringing fentanyl into the states by means of illegal immigration, human trafficking, and even through tunnels designed for smuggling.

Kunzweiler said the drug is also making its way into the hands of Oklahoma's youth.

"We have really tragic stories happening where you got some young person who, for whatever reason is experimenting with drugs, they think they're ingesting one thing and they're actually ingesting something highly illegal," Kunzweiler said.

While local authorities said they're doing everything they can to push back against the illegal drug activity, Kunzweiler said it's ultimately up to the federal government to make moves to secure the border.

"We're seeing tragedies every single day," Kunzweiler said. "I don't know what it's going to take but it's a crisis down here."

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.