Fentanyl impacts South Dakota communities

In a family scrapbook, Beth points to photos of her sister Grace who died after ingesting Heroin laced with Fentanyl.

BLACK HILLS, S.D. (KEVN) - Fentanyl, it is a powerful prescription drug for pain that's also made and used illegally.

"Heroin and fentanyl kind of go hand-in-hand so we are seeing more fentanyl in our area, it's a more dangerous drug than any of the others," said Taylor Sperle, supervisor of the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Beth Staeckler lost her sister Grace to an overdose after she ingested heroin laced with fentanyl, Grace was only 24 years old and a new mom.

"Nobody on Heroin thinks about their family, their sisters, their brothers, their mothers, their own children, and unfortunately there's nothing that you can do about that, but you just hope that one day people realize that fentanyl isn't just some drug you can take and come down off of and move on, the only way you're going come down off of fentanyl is if you die, and you will," said Beth Staeckler, Grace's sister.

In the latest National Drug Threat Assessment, the DEA found drug poisonings and the spread of fentanyl continue to be a challenge.

"My niece Penelope does not deserve to grow up without a mother, I fight every single day to keep that memory alive," Staeckler said.

In 2018, just two years after Grace's death, the DEA issued a temporary order making all fentanyl-related substances illegal in South Dakota but that order was about to expire.

"We have cases involving those substances in South Dakota, involving overdoses and involving deaths, fortunately the U.S. House did enact to extend the DEA's scheduling of fentanyl for another 15 months," said Ron Parsons, U.S. Attorney for the district of South Dakota.

Parsons said he will continue working toward a permanent solution with Congress.

"It will change everybody's life and your whole world," Staeckler said.