Police are calling the fentanyl epidemic “the most significant health and safety crisis in Ontario today”.
The chief coroner’s office says the synthetic opioid killed 165 people in the province last year.
This morning, some 450 members of police and border security agencies from all over the province gathered in Toronto to try to figure out how to deal with the problem.
Over the past few months, police have seized pill and power forms of fentanyl in Niagara, Welland, and Burlington.
“Recently in Hamilton, police seized liquid fentanyl which is somewhat of a game changer.”
“What’s dangerous about fentanyl is that when it’s in it’s pure from, when it’s 100% pure or even 95% pure, it is so toxic that is fatal to touch.”
Robert Osborne spent two years researching the fentanyl crisis in western Canada for his documentary. He says the drug is posing all kinds of challenges for police.
“They have to put on all of this equipment that they would normally wear – all their equipment and body armor that they would normally wear – but then they’ve got to put on this sealed suits and put on these gas masks that are hooked up to air tanks,” making it hard to navigate in a building where they may need to face armed and dangerous people.
Many drug users may not even know they are taking fentanyl until it’s too late. The drug is being sold as fake oxy pills – virtually identical to the real thing – and it’s nearly impossible for drug dealers to mix the drug evenly creating deadly “hotspots”.
A man, who is an insider in the underground drug world, explains how easy it is for drug dealers to get their hands on pure fentenayl.
“You can buy five grams of it from China. It can be put in just a regular sized envelope and mailed to you for a few hundred dollars. And that five grams is going to make the equivalent in street level heroin.”
According to the chief coroner’s office, in recent years, 1 out of 8 deaths among 25-34 year olds was caused by opioid overdose.