November 22, 2016 5:57 pm
Updated: November 23, 2016 5:37 pm

Dangerous drug carfentanil found in Vancouver during recent drug seizure

WATCH: B.C. is already in the grips of an overdose crisis and now there are fears it could get worse. A drug called carfentanil, said to be 100 time more potent than fentanyl has been detected on the Downtown Eastside. As Jordan Armstrong reports, the discovery comes at a particularly bad time.

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As the province is still grappling with a public health emergency caused by drug overdoses, Vancouver Police say there is a concern for a new type of drug possibly hitting city streets.

Up until now, fentanyl has been the drug health authorities and police have been warning about. The strong opioid has been found laced into street drugs, bringing death to unsuspecting users.

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Now, another deadly opioid, believed to be a hundred times more toxic than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine, may be posing a threat for drug users in Vancouver.

Investigators with Vancouver Police say carfentanil has been found during a drug seizure in the Downtown Eastside on Sept. 20. They say a man, who was reported to be in possession of a firearm, was checked by police in the north lane of Powell Street near Heatley.

When he was searched, it was discovered he had several grams of a narcotic believed to be heroin. Two samples of the drug were submitted to Health Canada for analysis. On Tuesday, Health Canada confirmed the samples contained trace amounts of the highly toxic drug carfentanil.

WATCH: An urgent warning from Vancouver Police after the discovery of drugs tainted with highly toxic carfentanil, an opioid 10,000 times stronger than morphine. Catherine Urquhart reports.

Carfentanil is used in veterinary practices to immobilize certain large animals. Just a few granules are enough to trigger a fatal overdose. The drug has caused hundreds of overdoses in the United States in the last few months and is believed to be making its way to Canada.

READ MORE: What is carfentanil? Deadly street drug is causing mass overdoses in the US

The most recent numbers in B.C. show the number of illicit drug deaths in the province is continuing to rise at a rate of about two each day.

In the first 10 months of 2016, the number of illicit drug overdoses was 622, compared to 397 for the same period last year.

Fentanyl still remains a major contributor to the high number of deaths. This year, from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, there were a total of 332 cases where fentanyl was found, which translates to about 60 per cent of all illicit drug deaths. That number is almost triple the number of fentanyl-detected deaths for the same timeframe last year.

With files from Carmen Chai and Paula Baker

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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