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DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Police Department says it is cracking down on fentanyl. 

Denver Police reassigned five detectives and one sergeant to work in the newly formed Fentanyl Investigations Team. The team members had previously been working in the department’s marijuana task force, but in 2022, they had just 37 cases.

“Right now we do currently investigate fentanyl throughout the districts,” Lt. Aaron Rebeterano said. “We have six districts. Each district is responsible for investigating illicit drugs. It’s quite difficult to address this when it’s very fractured and there are multiple styles of investigation.”

The team will handle all fentanyl investigations and prosecutions going forward. 

“We’re going to be investigating, dismantling and disrupting drug trafficking organizations that are bringing in fentanyl to the Denver metro area,” Rebeterano said. “And we’re also going to focus on overdose deaths and trying to get prosecutions for people who have dealt to a victim who has died of an overdose.”

Denver fentanyl arrests skyrocket

In 2020, Denver Police made 286 fentanyl arrests. In 2022, they made 1,724 arrests. According to the Office of the Medical Examiner, more than 215 people died last year from a fentanyl overdose.

“There has to be some other solution other than simply trying to target drug dealers and arresting them,” Rebeterano said. 

According to Rebeterano, the fentanyl team is still working on its strategies. However, he said investigations will include going after drug dealers using social media to sell fentanyl to kids. 

“I think every parent right now that has a child in high school or middle school is terrified that their kid’s gonna go to a party, and they end up with a fentanyl pill and it’ll be the last time that they see them,” he said.