WATCH: Government and law enforcement agencies are scrambling to try to end the rash of recent deaths linked to fentanyl. Rumina Daya has the details on what they are doing to try and save lives.
It’s cheap, toxic and the death toll is climbing. At least 55 people in B.C. this year have died from overdosing on fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
“Most people that are ingesting it have no idea that they’re doing so,” warned Cst. Brian Montague of the Vancouver Police Department.
Vancouver police say they have ramped up efforts to target fentanyl dealers. Projects “Trooper” and “Tainted” led to 20 arrests and netted 55,000 pills with a street value of up to $41.5 million.
“A lot of it we believe is coming from China and then being mixed with other drugs here or being pressed into pill form and sold as other things here,” said Montague.
Phil Tawtel of the BC Civil Forfeiture Office says the low cost of fentanyl makes it appealing to dealers.
“The product is a cheaper product to put out there and if it’s cheaper that means there’s a greater profit margin,” he said. “It’s all about profit.”
Court documents show the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office is currently in court trying to seize $3 million in assets connected to several fentanyl cases.
“The dealers are in it for money. If we can prove that the money is the proceeds of unlawful activity…that money, that car, that house will be forfeited to government,” said B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton.
In addition to targeting dealers, police launched the Know Your Source campaign in March to warn the public of the dangers of fentanyl.
“It provides some tips, I guess for lack of a better term, on how to reduce the risks of overdose if you do decide to use a drug, but there’s no guarantee.”
WATCH: ‘Know Your Source’ with street drugs
-With files from Rumina Daya