DEA Summit Brings Together Families Suffering Tragic Losses from Fentanyl
DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin King speaks to families gathered for the second annual Family Summit in Minneapolis.
MINNEAPOLIS – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Omaha Division hosted its second annual Family Summit at the U.S. Attorneys Office in Minneapolis October 19, bringing together 27 families from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota who lost loved ones to a fentanyl poisoning.
DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King welcomed families both returning and new and spoke to the fentanyl crisis facing Americans.
“The Family Summit provides an opportunity for a two-way conversation between families who have suffered a devastating loss and members of law enforcement,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said to families in attendance. “This is a heavy day, but we are learning from one another. We want to learn from your story. We want to be here for you.”
Three U.S. Attorneys from within the five state DEA Omaha Division addressed the concerns of family members including U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, Andrew M. Luger, U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota, Mac Schneider and U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, Alison J. Ramsdell. In addition, Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt and members of the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota spoke on the topics of narcotics investigations, the availability of educational resources and the effectiveness of the opioid overdose reversal spray, Naloxone. Six mothers, whose children ranged in age from 17 to 58 at the time of their death, rounded out the Summit by sharing their tragic stories of loss.
“These families are searching for ways to ensure that the loss they suffered is not one others will have to experience,” King said. “Our hope is that DEA can play a role in expanding awareness and education on the life-altering consequences of fentanyl.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 110,000 people died by drug poisoning in the United States in 2022 with fentanyl accounting for nearly 70 percent of these deaths. DEA laboratory testing now indicates that 7 out of every 10 pills seized by DEA contain a lethal dose of fentanyl, an increase from 4 out of 10 pills noted in 2021. This year alone, DEA has seized a record 62 million fentanyl pills, exceeding last year’s total of 58 million.