January 11, 2017 5:13 pm
Updated: January 11, 2017 7:24 pm

‘It’s all money:’ Huge profit margins drive fentanyl trafficking

ALERT Calgary’s organized crime and gang team teamed up with Calgary Police Service, Lethbridge Police Service, and RCMP members on two separate investigations last week. Search warrants were executed on October 26 and 28, 2016 and resulted in the seizure of 943 fentanyl pills and 2,771 pills, respectively.

Global News / File

WINNIPEG — A veteran RCMP drug officer says dealers have found a way to make big profits in Manitoba with fentanyl.

“This is a profit-based business, these people are not concerned about the safety or well-being of the drug users, they’re concerned about their profits,” said Cpl. Scott Hanson.

Hanson is the leader of the clandestine lab enforcement response team, a member of the federal serious organized crime unit and has been working in synthetic drug enforcement for the past eight years.

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He calls fentanyl “a game changer” because of its lethal attributes, which have already caused suspected fatal overdoses in Winnipeg.

Most of the fentanyl in Manitoba is coming from overseas, he said.

“The fentanyl we’re seeing right now from the Asian markets is relatively pure fentanyl so the packages are relatively small in nature and then it comes to Manitoba, the packages are diluted with a substance to increase the weight and dilute the potency of the fentanyl,” he continued.

WATCH: Global News coverage of fentanyl stories in Winnipeg

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For the drug traffickers Hanson is working to stop, simple math leads to big money.

A very small amount of high-potency fentanyl is mixed with a harmless cutting agent like icing sugar, creating a much larger quantity that can be divided up and sold.

“When you do that mix it’s very difficult to mix it exactly evenly and what happens is you end up with hotspots,” said Hanson.

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Hot spots are pills or doses that contain a higher concentration of fentanyl than the user is expecting.

“As the drug user you’re playing a little bit of Russian Roulette with what pill you’re taking aren’t you?” he continued.

Both organized crime rings and independents are importing fentanyl. When the drug is illicitly made or synthesized there are no quality controls like those exercised by pharmacies or chemical companies.

There is also the concern about fentanyl being added into other drugs.

RELATED: Man arrested on drug charges after 2 carfentanil, fentanyl overdoses in Winnipeg

Hanson said there is always a risk of accidental cross-contamination but so far he only knows of fentanyl being found conclusively in cocaine and ketamine in Manitoba.

He’s hoping more education programs will lead to increased awareness about the dangers of fentanyl.

“In my 16 years of law enforcement, in my services, this is the most dangerous drug I’ve ever seen, in my career,” said Hanson.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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