RCMP have confirmed the presence of lethal W-18 in drugs seized in Surrey.
W-18 is a powerful opioid 100 times stronger than fentanyl. It was previously discovered in Vancouver last April and also found in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
According to a release, Surrey RCMP seized pebble heroin in December 2016. The drugs were sent to Health Canada for analysis and recently came back positive for W-18.
In a similar case, West Shore RCMP on Vancouver seized what they believed to be cocaine in May 2016. The white powder substance was sent for analysis and tested positive for an analog of fentanyl – a new strain of the deadly opioid not seen in the region before.
At the time of the seizure, West Shore RCMP reported three overdoses in their jurisdiction.
“These lab results are once again prompting us to warn illicit drug users that it doesn’t matter where you buy your drugs, or who you get them from,” said BC RCMP’s Investigative Services and Organized Crime assistant commissioner Jim Gresham. “The danger is the same if you’re in the big city or in a small community. I cannot stress that enough – there is no safe haven.”
“You must be aware that at any time dangerous and potentially lethal drugs may be present in what you’re consuming. Unfortunately, there is no way for you to know what is really being sold to you. Please take steps to avoid making a potentially lethal decision,” he added.
The RCMP says it is currently investigating several cases of illicit drug trafficking and continues to receive more notices from B.C. communities regarding the presence of fentanyl in drugs.
Where does W-18 come from?
The drug comes from a “W-series” of opioid compounds first discovered at the University of Alberta in 1982, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. There are 32 compounds, W-1 to W-32, with W-18 being the most toxic.
W-18 is not currently regulated under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act and can be manufactured and bought freely, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
–With files from Paula Baker