NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Law enforcement and public health officials in Northwest Arkansas are sounding the alarm as the region suffers a surge in fentanyl trafficking, leading to an increase in related deaths.

According to Washington County prosecuting attorney Matt Durrett there are currently 45 open cases related to fentanyl in Washington County alone.

The spike in fentanyl cases has raised concerns among law enforcement agencies and health professionals as the opioid continues make its way into Northwest Arkansas.

In Benton County, the county coroner reported that 13 people have lost their lives due to fentanyl overdose in the first nine months of 2023. There is a palpable fear that more fatalities may occur if action isn’t taken swiftly.

Durrett oversees cases in both Washington and Benton Counties.

“It’s a tough fight, and when such a small amount of a substance can be so deadly, we have to do everything we can to fight it,” said Durrett.

Law enforcement agencies in both counties have been intensifying their efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking. They are working closely with federal agencies to identify and apprehend people involved in the distribution of the opioid.

As law enforcement, healthcare providers, and the community at large come together to address this crisis, the hope is that they can stem the tide of fentanyl-related harm and save lives.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with fentanyl or drug addiction, you can call the 24/7 toll free hotline with the substance abuse and mental health services administration at 1-800-662-4357.