Fort McMurray RCMP seized almost 400 pills of what they thought was fentanyl during a traffic stop in May, but test results show the pills were a far more-dangerous drug called carfentanil.
In a news release Friday, RCMP said they seized 390 pills on May 24. Police originally thought the substance was fentanyl, a dangerous opioid that killed 113 Albertans in the first three months of this year.
Results from Health Canada tests showed the pills were carfentanil, a substance 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
“It’s scary that this is out here,” said Cpl. Chris Warren of the Wood Buffalo RCMP. “It’s scary for the public, it’s scary for our officers and other emergency personnel that every day are at risk of coming into contact with it.”
Three people from Fort McMurray were arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
Carfentanil was first developed in the 1970s, and is intended to be used as a tranquillizer for large animals, such as elephants. A dose of 20 micrograms (there are one million micrograms in a gram) could be fatal to a person.
“There is no known application where carfentanil would be safe for human use,” Warren said.
The drug was detected in 21 deaths in Alberta in the first three months of 2017.
“This is a dangerous drug,” Warren said. “These illegal drugs aren’t tested, they don’t meet any safety standards. Any of these products that are manufactured illegally, you never know what you’re getting. The message needs to get out there that this stuff is, unfortunately, on our streets.”
Warren said taking 390 such potent pills off the streets helps make the city safer.