Sioux Falls area authorities warn about record fentanyl seizures

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Sioux Falls Police Department is alerting the public about an increasing amount of fentanyl seized within the community. Officers confiscated more than 3,000 grams of fentanyl in 2023, compared to less than 1,000 in 2022.

“It’s a warning to the people in our community that these pills are here. They’re on our streets. They’re readily available. They’re inexpensive and they’re deadly,” Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said.

Milstead says that he’s seeing an increasing number of people not just accidentally ingesting fentanyl but also addicted to the potent drug, sometimes taking 30 fentanyl pills a day.

“It’s critical. It’s impacting South Dakota. The cartels are reaching our communities,” Milstead said.

While officers are seizing a skyrocketing amount of fentanyl, drug overdose deaths decreased slightly in 2023. However, Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum says that isn’t because there is less fentanyl in the community. He credits more public awareness about the danger and increased accessibility to opioid overdose reversal medication. He also says that 16 deaths within the community in one year is still too many and warns that more tragedy is possible with the dangerous drug supply.

“It’s more and more prevalent. It’s more available. The price has plummeted. That’s a good indicator of how much the supply is. When the price goes down, that means the supply is plentiful,” Thum said.

This week, a Sioux Falls man was also sentenced to 21 Years in federal prison in connection with a fentanyl death. Armando Angel Cheshier, 25, was found guilty of distributing fentanyl and Xanax to a woman who died from the drugs. Before the death, Cheshier had traveled to Minneapolis to obtain 100 fentanyl pills, which were for both personal use and distribution in the Sioux Falls area.