(The Center Square) – Large amounts of fentanyl are flowing through Oregon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon recently revealed.
The Office recently informed the public of two high-scale fentanyl trafficking operations that law enforcement foiled.
In one, it charged 20-year-old Portland resident Jothan Paul Barrios-Chable with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. In this case, southern Oregon law enforcement caught him transporting over 100 pounds of fentanyl on U.S. Route 97 near Collier Memorial State Park on November 8.
Additionally, law enforcement found a 20-ton shop press used to manufacture fentanyl bricks and over 1,000 grams of compressed fentanyl belonging to 18-year-old Cristhian Martinez of Gladstone, Oregon, on November 16. Martinez has ties to lethal fentanyl overdoses in Oregon.
Martinez is charged with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
The charges come as fentanyl becomes a bigger problem in Oregon.
In one May weekend alone, Portland, Oregon, had eight drug overdose deaths, six of which were likely fentanyl-related, according to The Associated Press. Plus, overdose deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled in Oregon from 226 in 2020 to 508 in 2021, according to the report.
The growing fentanyl presence in Oregon comes as the state liberalized its drug laws and is facing negative consequences as a result.
In 2020, Oregon voters passed Measure 110, which decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs, including heroin, meth, cocaine, and fentanyl. Since the law passed, drug overdose deaths have increased, as has homelessness, according to Stateline. Additionally, the state has seen a drop in convention and hotel bookings in response to the law, the report said.
Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Drug dealers also lace other drugs with fentanyl, putting even those who do not plan to consume the drug at risk.
“It’s crazy out there,” Rick Treleaven, the chief executive officer at BestCare Treatment Services, told Oregon Public Broadcasting in May. “This is a very dangerous time to be a drug addict in Oregon.”