Sheriff warns of cartels moving into SLC, bringing fentanyl

Feb 13, 2023, 1:30 PM | Updated: Feb 14, 2023, 7:58 am

FILE: The bust of 30 pounds of fentanyl in American Fork on March 21 highlights the drug problem Ut...

FILE: The bust of 30 pounds of fentanyl in American Fork on March 21 highlights the drug problem Utah is facing. The DEA said it is on track to see double the amount of fentanyl in the state this year compared to last year. (Washington County Sheriff's Office)

(Washington County Sheriff's Office)

SALT LAKE CITY — Multiple cases involving cartels are under investigation in Salt Lake City as the fentanyl crisis spreads, according to the Salt Lake County Sheriff. 

According to the CDC, more than 932,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. The drugs are primarily synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Sheriff Rosie Rivera says the cartels are bringing fentanyl Salt Lake County. 

“I think they’re not as violent, they way they are here is different than they are in Mexico,” said Sheriff Rivera. “But they’re going to be if we don’t continue to do prevention on fentanyl use. If we don’t continue to do enforcement.”

The 2020/2021 annual drug report from Utah Poison Control said the total drug-related fatalities in Utah are increasing.

More specifically:

“The main driver of the increasing deaths is fentanyl. The number of deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2019 (54) to 2020 (122; 125% increase).” 

Sheriff Rivera warns citizens, law enforcement and lawmakers alike on KSL NewsRadio that if drug prevention isn’t prioritized safety will be at risk. 

Upticks in fentanyl and drug overdoses are also directly correlated to an uptick in crime. From robberies to assault charges, Newsnations Robert Sherman told KSL NewsRadio, the uptick is happening across the U.S.

Sherman has observed first hand the expansion of cartels in neighborhoods, specifically in Montana. 

Similarly, Sheriff Rivera said a lot of SLC crime is attributed to drug addiction.

“Now we’re seeing more and more violent crimes,” said Rivera. ” We see people fleeing from law enforcement because they are addicted to certain substances that create a more violent situation for them.”

How to prevent the spread of fentanyl use

As far as warning signs, Rivera told Dave and Dujanovic they may be hard to spot.

However, Rivera said she knows cartels are targeting younger generations to get them addicted earlier. 

Education on drugs in general and specifically fentanyl is key to prevention said Rivera. If kids are buying drugs online or on the street, there is a high chance they are laced with fentanyl. 

Additionally, cartels may begin to target those in rural areas over big cities. This will require a lot of attention and resources from local police stations. 

“Its just everywhere… it’s going to take all law enforcement,” said Rivera. 

As of now, Utah has 294,000 fake fentanyl deaths and 14 lbs of fentanyl powder seized by the DEA. 

Listen to Sheriff Rivera and Robert Sherman discuss the dangers of the cartel and the spread of the fentanyl crisis. 



We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Sheriff warns of cartels moving into SLC, bringing fentanyl