HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – Utah Highway Patrol Troopers say they are finding more and more drugs on state roads.

“Right now, we’re seeing a huge uptick in our methamphetamine and fentanyl seizures across the board, additionally we’re seeing firearms with the majority of the seizures that we make,” says Lt. Brent Shelby, the head of UHP’s Interdiction and K-9 Teams.

Shelby says just last month, they had 19 large seizures and say they’ve already had several this month.

“Definitely the highest start to a year we’ve had for fentanyl pills on record,” he says.

He says he believes the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, and other issues affecting people’s livelihoods, could be why they’re seeing a rise.

“Then you start seeing people turn to this as an option because they get desperate for money,” he says.

Lt. Shelby says they’re finding more illegal drugs in pill form, making them more potent. He says if someone who doesn’t have an opioid tolerance ingests one, it could kill them.

“When we first started seeing these counterfeit pills, they were down around 1-2% fentanyl involved in those pills, now we’re getting them upwards 5,6, 7%,” he says.

Shelby brings up a closed case from 2021, where troopers seized about 60,000 fentanyl or counterfeit oxycodone pills headed to Denver, Colorado.

“A lot of your large narcotic loads, will go to these source or hub cities, and be distributed from there, all across the country,” says Shelby.

Once cases close, he says drugs are incinerated so they don’t get back into the community.

He adds Utahns can help, by reporting suspicious activity to their local law enforcement.