Lab results show tablets that appeared to be oxycodone pills, which were seized last year in an Edmonton suburb, are instead the super powerful drug carfentanil.
St. Albert RCMP executed a search warrant in December 2016, when they seized a quantity of tablets and other controlled substances including cocaine, hash, marijuana, psylocibin (magic mushrooms), MDMA, and 10 Fentanyl tablets.
The seized tablets looked like they were green OxyContin 80 mg prescription pills. Police said samples of the tablets were sent to Health Canada for analysis.
The results of the tests came back on Thursday, when police found out the tablets were instead the much more potent opioid carfentanil. It is not known if the drugs made it to the street level or if any overdoses have been reported as a result of them.
Carfentanil is a weapons-grade chemical is suspected in hundreds of drug overdoses in the U.S. and Canada. Some 5,000 times stronger than heroin — and 100 times stronger than fentanyl itself — carfentanil is so toxic that an amount smaller than a poppy seed can kill a person.
It looks like table salt and just a few granules is enough to trigger a fatal overdose. RCMP said a dose of 20 micrograms of carfentanil would be fatal.
Drug dealers cut carfentanil and other synthetic opioids into illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine and fake prescription pills to boost profit margins and make their drugs stronger, thus more appealing to users. The drugs are not tested for toxicity, and are often made under conditions in which they can be contaminated with other illegal substances.
An in-depth Associated Press feature on widespread effects of carfentanil said since such a small amount of the drug can be deadly, it can be difficult for toxicology tests to confirm its existence in human blood.
Alberta’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is believed to be the first toxicology laboratory in Canada to positively identify carfentanil in human blood. In September 2016, Health Canada said it was ramping up efforts to tame the “crisis” it’s seeing within our borders.
St. Albert RCMP said four people were arrested and charged with a variety of drug related offences as a result of the December raid.
The RCMP also called Children and Family Services as a child was also found in the home. The name of those arrested haven’t been released to protect the privacy of the child and other investigations, the RCMP said.
St. Albert is a bedroom community directly north of Edmonton.
— With files from The Associated Press and Carmen Chai, Global News