Winnipeg police have issued a public advisory after seizing 1,477 blotter tabs they suspect could contain the deadly opioid carfentanil.
On Monday, police seized the blotter tabs from a west-end Winnipeg hotel room while executing a search warrant. Grayson Richard Parris, 37, has been charged with several offences relating to possession and trafficking of a scheduled substance.
Scientific testing of the blotter papers Winnipeg police seized is still pending. However, police told VICE that information obtained during the investigation of Parris led them to suspect that the substance on the blotter tabs could be carfentanil. Police said no other substances were seized during Parris' arrest.
Carfentanil, a non-pharmaceutical black market opioid that is more potent than fentanyl, has already wreaked havoc in the US, causing mass overdoses in Ohio; carfentanil and fentanyl have been linked to about 300 deaths in four states since August. In an amount equal to a few grains of salt, the drug can cause overdoses. Though carfentanil has now entered the illicit drug trade, it is known as an elephant tranquilizer and has allegedly been used as a chemical weapon by the Russian military in the past.
"[The public advisory is] based on information we've been able to derive from the arrest, based on what has been seized," Constable Jason Michalyshen told VICE. "We were provided with information indicating that it may be present, and we have an obligation and duty to inform the public of certain health risks and public safety concerns."
In June, a kilo of the deadly substance bound for Calgary was seized by Canadian border agents. The carfentanil confiscated during that seizure was a white powder, but the drug has also been seen in a pink form and has most commonly been spiked into heroin, resulting in many overdose deaths in states like Ohio.
"This is obviously not a typical form or a form that has ever been seen," Michalyshen said in reference to the blotter tabs. "Despite the fact that it hasn't been seen in this form before, it doesn't mean it couldn't be."
All photos courtesy Winnipeg police
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