BUTTE CO., County – Illicit drugs are now killing more people in Butte County than they have in the past. In 2021, illicit drugs killed 114 people in Butte County.
Data released by the Butte Interagency Narcotics Task Force (BINTF) show that methamphetamine is on the rise, more than doubling from where it was at in 2019.
BINTF commander, Michael O’Brien, said this drug has been a concern in Butte County since the 1980s, but now an even bigger concern is fentanyl.
The agency’s data shows there were zero overdose deaths in 2018 linked to fentanyl. Fast forward to 2021, and the county totaled 41 deaths caused by this highly lethal drug.
O’Brien said the rising problem will not just be curbed by enforcement.
“We have a role to play and our agents do a fantastic job playing our role, but you have to look at education and those prevention efforts that our public health and behavioral health departments in this county do a fantastic job of doing,” O’ Brien said. “It’s got to be looked at comprehensively.”
In the 2021 report, BINTF data shows 114 people died as a result of illicit drug overdose in Butte County, representing a 52% increase from 2020. Fentanyl related overdose deaths quadrupled from how many the county saw in 2020.
Methamphetamine related overdose deaths totaled 79 in 2021. This is a 600% increase from 2018, when it only accounted for 11 overdose deaths.
O’Brien told Action News Now these numbers would be significantly higher if it were not for naloxone, an opioid-specific antidote drug used to counteract fentanyl and other opioid-related overdoses.
All of the county’s first responders have access and are trained on this antidote, and people in the general public also can access it.
Although, this antidote does not work against methamphetamine.
O’Brien added that these illicit drugs are not made locally. Instead they are coming in through drug trafficking out of Mexico or China.
This trend is also prevalent throughout California and other parts of the United States.
O’Brien said another dangerous emerging trend involves ghost guns seized by law enforcement. These guns are initially legally purchased as firearm components and require minimal machining to produce a finished firearm
He said that ghost guns are frequently possessed by people that also have narcotics.
Several recent arrests made in Magalia, Oroville and Chico involved these ghost guns and narcotics.