KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mayor Quinton Lucas signed onto a letter this week supporting the Biden Administration’s funding request to address the fentanyl crisis.
The letter was signed by nearly 40 mayors across the country.
It includes $1.2 billion to crack down on the trafficking of illicit fentanyl and block it from entering U.S. borders.
It would allow the Department of Homeland Security to hire over 1,000 new Customs and Border Protection Officers and expand Homeland Security investigations related to fentanyl.
It is something Sharen Lucero has been pushing for since she lost her 19-year-old daughter, Jataya Rose Lucero. Jataya's case is still under investigation, but family does know that THC, alcohol and fentanyl were in her system the night she was poisoned at a party.
“The younger people think it’s not gonna happen to them. It is going to. I would never have guessed Jataya. I had no clue so it’s devastating,” said Lucero. “We went into her room and she’s got the respirator going and all these tubes and we knew she was gone.”
The funding also would allocate $1.5 billion in grant funding for cities so that they can provide more resources for health systems, law enforcement and first responders.
Sergeant Jeremy Fahrmeier with the Drug Task Force in the Clay County Sheriff’s Office says he saw an uptick of fentanyl cases during the pandemic. In the beginning of the crisis, they were mostly tracking down counterfeit M30 pills, but now, it is laced in most narcotics and killed -over 100,000 people last year.
“You have a greater chance of surviving Russian roulette than surviving one of those pills,” said Fahrmeier. “Two milligrams or less is a lethal dose of fentanyl, which basically breaks down to about five to six grains of table salt.”
Fahrmeier says in addition to border control and better treatment options for addicts, additional funding should be used for testing kits and apparatus.
He says one tool they use right now, which costs about $25,000, is called TruNarc. It reads the chemical makeup of a drug they are trying to test for evidence. The machine searches its pre-programmed database of narcotics to show on a monitor what drug the officers found.
Fahrmeier says because fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, the chemical make up can be changed in a lab to make it even more potent Just two milligrams of the “normal fentanyl” can kill, but with some of the new strands, it may take even less.
“We do a lot of training on our drug task force. We go to a lot of different schools to learn about what’s the latest trend, things like that,” said Fahrmeier.