Gov. Beshear: Counterdrug Program Supported Seizure of 265,170 Fentanyl Pills Last Year, Saving Kentuckians from Overdose

Governor signs fiscal year 2025 Counterdrug State’s Plan to continue work


FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 23, 2024) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear approved the continued work of Kentucky’s Counterdrug Program, which has helped save Kentuckians’ lives by supporting the seizure of 265,170 fentanyl pills and 208.3 pounds of fentanyl during the 2023 federal fiscal year, which runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

The Governor said the team increased the number of fentanyl pills seized by more than 5,000% and seized more than 100 pounds more of fentanyl compared with the 2022 fiscal year. So far in the 2024 fiscal year, the team has supported the seizure of more than 86,150 fentanyl pills and approximately 93 pounds of fentanyl. They have also aided in 64 arrests.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is being mixed with other illicit drugs to increase the potency of the drug, which is sold as powders and nasal sprays and is increasingly pressed into pills that are made to look like legitimate prescription opioids. Officials estimate 1 kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.

“I am so proud of the work of our counterdrug team, which includes multiple state, local and federal agencies, including Kentucky State Police, Kentucky National Guard, Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Homeland Security Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration,” Gov. Beshear said. “They are stopping the flow of illicit drugs into our communities and their work is saving lives.”

The group also supported the seizure of 822 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 310 pounds of cocaine, enabled 164 arrests and facilitated surrender of more than $2.3 million in cash tied to illegal drug activity in 2023.

The Governor was joined by the Kentucky National Guard Assistant Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. David Mounkes, to officially sign the fiscal year 2025 State Drug Interdiction and Counterdrug Activities Plan. The Counterdrug Program is federally funded through the Secretary of Defense to states whose Governor submits a Drug Interdiction and Counterdrug Activities Plan.

“I am immensely proud of our counterdrug team’s collaboration with state, local and federal law enforcement agencies,” said Brig. Gen. Mounkes. “In a supportive role, their efforts have been crucial in aiding the disruption in flow of illicit drugs and significantly increasing the commonwealth’s ability to remove fentanyl and other dangerous substances from our streets. This teamwork not only combats drug trafficking, but also saves lives in the communities in which we live.”

As part of the Kentucky Counterdrug Program, the National Guard provides personnel, assets and capabilities as part of their unique military support.

KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr. added that according to the CDC, synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, are the primary driver of overdose deaths in the United States. 

“Not only is fentanyl a danger to Kentuckians, but it is a threat to our law enforcement officers, their K9 counterparts as well as other first responders. KSP relies heavily on drug task forces, local law enforcement and federal agencies for intel sharing and pooling resources to stop these criminal organizations from causing destruction in our communities,” Commissioner Burnett said. “Here in Kentucky, we have a strong message for drug traffickers – this is not a place for you to do business.” 

The Governor added that this month, the Kentucky Counterdrug Program supported the disposal of 15,161 pounds of unneeded medication as part of the statewide Drug Takeback Day.

The Governor said today’s action further supports the progress Kentucky is making when it comes to fighting addiction and saving lives.

Last year, the Governor announced that drug overdose deaths declined in 2022 by 5% compared with 2021, marking the first decline since 2018. Kentucky was one of only eight states to see a significant decline in overdose deaths. The 2023 numbers are being finalized and are expected to be announced in early June.

In 2023, the state also supported the distribution of more than 96,780 overdose reversal medication kits, provided substance-use treatment services to nearly 18,100 individuals and helped more than 14,630 individuals access recovery services. The state’s Treatment Access Program also allows those without health insurance to enter residential treatment, and the Recovery Ready certification helps communities support residents who are seeking help for drug or alcohol addiction.

The state is also leading the nation in the number of residential drug and alcohol treatment beds per capita. In March, Gov. Beshear announced the state’s website as being the one-stop place where Kentuckians can find naloxone, addiction treatment, recovery housing and mental health resources.

The administration has also recorded the three lowest recidivism rates in over a decade. This year, Gov. Beshear announced a new website to support Kentuckians seeking second chances find a job, get an education or continue recovery. The site also connects business leaders with resources to help them hire second-chance talent.

The Governor has continued to fight the state’s drug epidemic from his time as attorney general, when he led the nation in the number of individual opioid lawsuits filed by an attorney general. Now, Gov. Beshear is working to make sure the hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement funds go to treatment and the communities impacted.

Additional treatment resources are available by calling the KY Help Call Center at 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak one-on-one with a specialist.

Visit the KSP website to find one of KSP’s 16 posts where those suffering from addiction can be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. The Angel Initiative is completely voluntary, and individuals will not be arrested or charged with any violations if they agree to participate in treatment.