Governor Gianforte Announces Fentanyl Trafficking Penalties After Surveying Southern Border

Governor's Office
  • May 15 2023

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte issued his first statement after returning from surveying the U.S. southern border the day Title 42 protections expired.

“I’ve been to the border a handful of times over the last six years, and the situation has never been more dire for our country. Human traffickers and drug cartels are profiting on catastrophe the Biden administration has made worse, with thousands of illegal crossings each day,” Gov. Gianforte said. “We’ve got a serious problem that’s putting the safety of the American people at risk, and the only person who can fix this mess is the president.”

Click here to watch a video from Gov. Gianforte just outside Yuma, Arizona

Following his return, the governor today announced new penalties for fentanyl traffickers.

“As just one consequence of the border crisis, Montana is being overrun by fentanyl trafficked into our state by Mexican drug cartels,” Gov. Gianforte said. “We’re taking action to crack down on the criminals who profit off these deadly drugs.”

Fentanyl Trafficking

Gov. Gianforte discussing the fentanyl crisis in Montana in August 2022

The governor recently signed into law House Bill 791, sponsored by Rep. Courtenay Sprunger, R-Kalispell, to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of two years of jail time, a $50,000 fine, or both, for anyone convicted of trafficking fentanyl in the state of Montana.

“According to our Attorney General, the current supply of fentanyl in the state is enough to kill every man, woman, and child in Montana. I am proud to have carried the bill that will hold accountable those who are victimizing our most vulnerable and putting our communities at risk,” Rep. Sprunger said.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is the leading cause of death in Americans under 50, exceeding heart disease, cancer, homicide, and other accidents.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seized over 14,000 pounds of fentanyl coming across the southwest border, enough to kill over 3.1 billion people. In Montana, since 2019, the state has experienced an 11,000 percent increase in fentanyl, with three times the amount of fentanyl seized in 2022 compared to 2021.