ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Alaska authorities say the synthetic opioid fentanyl is an escalating problem in the remote state, and it’s leading to a significant increase in deaths.

Alaska State Trooper Capt. Michael Duxbury said at a news briefing Tuesday that the dangerous black market drug is “by far the biggest concern” in the opioid crisis.

Jay Butler, the state’s chief medical officer, says 2017 statistics have not been finalized, but there were at least two dozen fentanyl-related deaths, compared with five or six deaths the previous year.

Duxbury says Alaska is a destination state, with opioids like heroin and other illegal drugs manufactured elsewhere and brought to the state by gangs and Mexican drug cartels.

Duxbury says dealing with the state’s opioid crisis presents challenges amid state budget cuts and trooper staff shortages.

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