This week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), both the federal and the national police force of Canada, has launched 20 investigations into increasing delivery of illicit drugs such as fentanyl from China to Canada. Local news publications including CBCNews reported that the Canadian law enforcement has begun to actively investigate into overseas trading of fentanyl as opioid-related deaths hit new high in the region.
In an interview, Sergeant Yves Goupil emphasized the difficulty of restricting and preventing mass shipments of fentanyl coming into Canada because the majority of arrests and intercepts of fentanyl deliveries were executed in Canada. Goupil stated that other countries including the US are mounting pressure on China to heavily regulate its local fentanyl market to prevent international shipments of illicit drugs from being processed.
In 2016, Goupil and members of the RCMP met with Chinese officials to discuss solutions the Chinese law enforcement can enforce to restrict fentanyl trading and disrupt shipments from leaving the country. Goupil said that the Chinese authorities are aware that over 100 seizures of fentanyl shipments were made by the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency in 2016 alone. Goupil told CBSNews:
“We suggested a course of action for China to actually stop and disrupt the influx of shipments of fentanyl. We want to make sure that China assists us once we identify vendors.”
Government agencies and law enforcement officials in the US, UK and Canada are aggressively targeting fentanyl vendors, distributors and suppliers because of the exponential increase in fentanyl-related deaths. Although fentanyl is traditionally prescribed as a painkiller, even a small amount of the drug can be lethal and deadly. Two milligrams of fentanyl combined with widely utilized drugs such as heroin and cocaine can be enough to kill an adult.
“We know that for every little package that comes into Canada people can die. Time is of the essence and we have to fight all the time to tackle the issue,” Goupil emphasized.
However, Goupil and the RCMP admitted that it is challenging to detect fentanyl because they are shipped or transported in the forms of small packages or envelopes. Through international postal service providers, distributors can easily hide small amounts of fentanyl in batches of papers, books and clothes to make it through airport security and ship it internationally.
More to that, due to the dark web and the presence of dark web marketplaces that are utilized by millions of active young students and drug dealers, the demand toward fentanyl is always sustained at high levels. Since most of the communication is done through the dark web which is encrypted, it becomes challenging for the law enforcement to prevent fentanyl purchases beforehand. Also, dark web users and consumers of drugs such as fentanyl, cocaine and heroin use anonymous or remote addresses to pick up packages of illicit drugs elsewhere, far from their home or work addresses.
Last year, more than 2,816 Canadians died from opioid-related illness, explained Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada. Tam noted that the government is alarmed by the rapid increase of fentanyl-related death toll in 2017, as fatalities involving the drug rose by two-fold in the first quarter of 2017 in comparison to the same period in 2016.
As DeepDotWeb previously reported, the US and the Food and Drug Administration is allocating significant resources and capital into developing enhanced technologies to detect fentanyl and other illicit drugs at postal offices. Since most packages of illicit drugs that are supplied and distributed through the dark web are dealt by regional postal service providers, the FDA explained that increased security measures at postal facilities could decrease the amount of drugs smuggled into the US.
“Given the scope of the opioid crisis, and the risk posed by these synthetic drugs, it’s my belief that we need to devote even more resources and attention to these risks,” said Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of The Food and Drug Administration.
In addition to ongoing investigations, Canada can also adopt the method of the US FDA in order to further prevent the distribution of fentanyl across the country.