A huge cache of a new lethal street drug was discovered in Montreal, making people aware of this dangerous substance. It’s called desmethyl fentanyl, and Montreal police seized over 300,000 tablets of it in April. Not only is this new drug deadly, like other very harmful street substances like crystal meth, it is made by amateur drug manufacturers in makeshift home labs. The police confiscated several other drugs in the recent raids, but are particularly worried about the abundance of the desmethyl fentanyl they uncovered. A new, potent synthetic drug means more addicts and more deaths, unless its use can be prevented.
The Black Market Raid
The April raid by police in Montreal targeted the city’s black market of illegal drugs. From several locations, they seized bath salts, crystal meth,ecstasy, steroids, oxycodone, and thousands of kilograms worth of ingredients for manufacturing synthetic drugs. The confiscated ingredients were enough to make around 3 million illegal pills. The police also found prescription drugs, like Viagra and Cialis, that had been synthesized illegally in home labs. In addition to the drugs and ingredients, they found and seized the equipment the drug makers were using for their illicit business. This included sophisticated and high-tech pieces, including a machine that can produce pills at a rate of one per second. The finds indicated to police and other officials that the drug ring busted in April was a big one. To get such a big score is important and something to be celebrated, but there are many aspects of the finds that are also deeply troubling.
Fentanyl is a prescription painkiller in the opioid class. This means it is related to other compounds, like heroin, methadone, and morphine that are either found naturally in, or are derived from, compounds from the opium poppy. These drugs can be powerful medicines that bring people relief from chronic and severe pain. They also give users a high and can lead to very serious addictions. Even some people who use these types of painkillers under the direction of a doctor are at risk of becoming addicted. Fentanyl is a painkiller from this class of drugs that is even more potent than many of them. It is 100 times more powerful as a painkiller than morphine. Because of this potency, fentanyl is most often used in medical settings only for the most severe pain or for pain that does not respond to other medications. It is also used in the care of those dying from terminal diseases, usually cancer, who have a lot of pain. Because fentanyl is so potent and the potential for addiction is so high, it is a schedule II controlled substance along with opium, methadone, morphine and amphetamines. Restrictions on access to fentanyl are very tight. Desmethyl fentanyl is a slightly modified version of fentanyl that illicit drug makers can create in a lab and sell on the streets. Like fentanyl, it is extremely potent as a painkiller. It is abused for the quick and intense high that it imparts to the user. Desmethyl is 40 times more potent than heroin. Some of the police officers involved in the Montreal raids were affected by simply handling the pills.
Needless to say, the potency of this new street drug is of great concern. Heroin addicts have a nearly impossible task in trying to quit and stay clean. The challenge will be even greater for those that get hooked on desmethyl fentanyl. There are also likely to be more accidental overdoses with this new drug because of its potency. Perhaps the worst news of all is that those manufacturing the desmethyl fentanyl tablets appear to have been targeting young people in particular. They used copycat branding for the pills, which means they stamped logos into the tablets that would attract young people. These included the Tim Horton’s logo, the Facebook f, the Montreal Canadiens team logo, and even the face of Hello Kitty. Some of the pills made by this manufacturing outlet in Montreal managed to make it into the United States. They were found stashed inside microwaves that were being transported across the border. Whether you are in Canada or the US, be aware of this new and dangerous drug. It is potent, highly addictive, and is actively being targeted at young people.