In October 2021, Bruce Snodgrass died after a fentanyl overdose. He was 22 years old.   

“He loved Alaska,” said Bruce’s mother, Sandy. “He was meant to be in the Alaskan wilderness. He was safe there. He wasn’t safe in the city.” 

The number of deadly fentanyl overdoses in Alaska has been increasing since 2018. The biggest spike came last year, when there were 253 overdose deaths — over 100 more than the year before. 

“There are people who actively seek out fentanyl,” said Michael Troster with the Alaska High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. “But a lot of the overdoses can be attributed to people thinking they have one substance (Adderall) and it’s contaminated with fentanyl.”  

One gram of fentanyl could kill 500 people. In the first three months of this year, law enforcement seized over 1,200 grams. That’s more than double what was seized all of last year. Retired DEA Agent Derek Maltz says a lot of it’s coming from Mexico. 

The fentanyl crisis has made its way to Alaska, over 3,000 miles from the southern border.
Fentanyl overdoses in Alaska have been rising since 2018.
Tulare County Sheriff’s Office

“The cartels have a pipeline up the West Coast, through California, into Washington state,” Maltz said. “And obviously into Alaska. So, we’re seeing growing addiction.” 

Since Bruce’s death, Sandy has been pushing for a law in his name. It’s aimed at creating a campaign to warn the public about the dangers of fentanyl.

“Bruce’s Law will provide federal-level awareness and prevention measures specifically surrounding the fentanyl crisis in the United States,” Snodgrass said.

One gram of fentanyl could kill 500 people.
One gram of fentanyl could kill 500 people.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

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