Police in Toronto say they’ve made their first confirmed seizure of the deadly drug carfentanil. They said Wednesday in a release that analysis of recently seized substances purported to be heroin tested positive for carfentanil, cocaine and caffeine.
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that is used to sedate large animals and is not for human consumption. The drug is fatal in small doses and has a potency approximately 10,000 times that of morphine and 100 times that of fentanyl.
Carfentanil cannot be detected by sight, smell or taste, and has been associated to overdose deaths across Canada. A warning was issued Tuesday in Waterloo Region, west of Toronto, after Health Canada found carfentanil in counterfeit pills seized by police.
Health officials announced Monday that carfentanil has been linked to 15 drug overdose deaths in Alberta during the last few months, with 14 of those deaths occurring between September and the end of November.
Alberta health officials warned people using opioids that they should not be alone and ensure they are near someone who can call for help if needed. Last month, Vancouver police warned drug users to be cautious following the seizure of drugs containing trace amounts of carfentanil.
Sgt. Brian Montague said the existence of carfentanil is concerning because the coroner’s service had already reported more than 600 illicit-drug deaths in British Columbia between January and October, with fentanyl involved in 60 per cent of them. B.C.’s health minister has announced that paramedics will use bicycles and all-terrain vehicles in high-overdose areas to respond to a worsening opioid crisis in the province.
Winnipeg police warned drug users in September to have a naloxone overdose prevention kit on hand when using carfentanil, fentanyl or heroin.
The Associated Press has identified a dozen Chinese businesses that said they would export carfentanil — a synthetic opioid — to Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium and Australia for as little as US$2,750 a kilogram, no questions asked.
The Canada Border Services Agency has made three carfentanil seizures in the Pacific region this year and the RCMP announced late last month it had reached an agreement with China aimed at halting the transpacific flow of fentanyl into Canada.
The force said Commissioner Bob Paulson and Chen Zhimin, the vice-minister of China’s public security ministry, agreed to boost efforts to disrupt the flow of fentanyl and other opioids.
Paulson has said opioids pose a grave threat to community safety in Canada.
Canadian Press via the Star/Dec. 7, 2016
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