Hays High Students

Students at Hays High School learned about the dangers of opioids through a presentation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

KBI Director Tony Mattivi engaged with students on Wednesday to raise awareness about the opioid crisis.

Mattivi said the sole avenue toward building a healthier community is by understanding the risks associated with substances such as pills and joints, which may contain fentanyl.

"We cannot arrest enough drug dealers to keep this from happening," Mattivi said. "The only way we can get out of this problem is to educate people." 

Mattivi served as a federal prosecutor, handling cases related to drug trafficking, violent crime, organized crime, gangs and various other offenses.

The presentation provided a brief overview of the history of fentanyl in the United States.

"When we first started seeing this problem back in 2017 and 2018, fentanyl was being introduced to the United States by the Chinese government," he said.

Chinese involvement declined as Mexican cartels realized the profitability of distributing fentanyl.

Mattivi said fentanyl found in Kansas is always traced back to the same two organizations.

"As soon as the cartels realized how much money they could profit off of fentanyl, they elbowed the Chinese out of their way and took over distribution and importation to the United States," he said. 

Two milligrams of fentanyl is enough to kill you, Mattivi said, making several size comparisons to a penny, the point of a pencil and a dollar.

"Imagine taking a dollar bill and tearing it into 100 pieces, every one of those pieces is about a milligram so two pieces of that dollar bill are fatal," he said.

Mattivi said fentanyl can be found in every community in Kansas in different variations with other types of illegal drugs. 

"We're seeing it mixed with crack, methamphetamine and cocaine," he said. "We even had a death in Kansas of a young person smoking a joint that had been laced."

Cases similar to this have increased in the past year among methamphetamine users, attributed to the mixing of fentanyl with the substance.

The images in the presentation depicted how cartels can produce pills with a striking resemblance to those manufactured in an FDA laboratory.

"The business model of Cartels is trying to addict as many people to fentanyl as possible. They don't care about killing a few people along the way," he said.

The presentation also featured two videos showcasing the FDA-regulated laboratories and a lab with operated by cartels in Mexico.

A sophomore student who attended the presentation was surprised to learn how much fentanyl could prove to be fatal.

"I didn't know fentanyl could be in pills," he said. "I didn't know two milligrams could make you overdose," the student said.

Following the presentation, the student said it altered his view of just how dangerous the substance is.

"It's scary to think about because you'd think it's a lot more than it is, but just a small amount can kill you," he said. 

Mattivi also addressed Hays Middle School students earlier in the morning. 

For additional information and resources regarding drug trafficking and drug abuse in Kansas, visit the Kansas Bureau of Investigation website.

You can also follow the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on Facebook.