Overdose deaths surge as fentanyl floods Colorado

·2 min read

Golden, Colorado — There is little time to waste when someone is experiencing a fentanyl overdose.

In Arapahoe County, Colorado, last December, officers used Narcan to seemingly bring a woman back to life after she took an illegal drug laced with fentanyl.

"It did kill me," the woman, who requested that her name not be used, told CBS News. "I was dead. They said had they not gotten my heart back, I would have been dead or had permanent brain damage."

The leading cause of overdoses is fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that's 50 times more powerful than heroin. Overdose deaths topped 100,000 for the first time ever in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with nearly 70% of them involving fentanyl.

Colorado saw an almost 70% increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses from 2020 to 2021, with more than 900 deaths total last year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Fentanyl is flooding the state, coming in via the interstates and highways because the cartels realize that by going through Colorado, they can reach vast parts of the U.S.

"You've got the I-25 corridor that runs north-south from Mexico. You've got the I-70 corridor that runs east all the way across the country," said Cole Finegan, U.S. attorney for the district of Colorado. "So there's a lot of different ways once something comes into Colorado where it can move."

Daily police stops throughout Colorado find fentanyl hidden in vehicles, with the stockpile of evidence growing.

"Fentanyl keeps coming," said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of Colorado State Patrol. "It is a poison that is continuously infecting, not only Colorado, but every community throughout this country."

Packard said those selling fentanyl are driven by profit and "do not care how many body bags are a result."

Adding to the urgency, police say the cartels are making fentanyl look like candy, making it more enticing to young people.

Kim Osterman's 18-year-old son, Max, died from fentanyl poisoning last year.

"They're deliberately doing this to kill the children," she said. "They're marketing it to the children."

It's a supply chain police are trying to choke off, but shows little sign of shutting down.

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