Chinese government to work with Canada on stopping flow of fentanyl

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security have agreed to work together to help slow the flow of illicit drugs into Canada.

Coordinated law enforcement will target supply of fentanyl and synthetic opioids

This June 2016 photo provided by the RCMP shows printer ink bottles containing carfentanil imported to Vancouver from China. (RCMP via AP)

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security have agreed to work together to help slow the flow of illicit drugs into Canada.

The two governments now have a memorandum of understanding in place to coordinate policing to crack down on illicit fentanyl and other opioids.

"Fentanyl and other opioids pose a grave threat to the safety of Canadian communities," said RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson in a statement. 

"Our meeting this week was an important step forward and highlights the commitment between our two organizations to enhance operational collaboration, identify key areas of concern and work towards a coordinated approach to combat fentanyl trafficking."

Illicit drug deaths on the rise

From January 1 to the end of October, 622 British Columbians died of illicit drug overdoses, with fentanyl being detected in about 60 per cent of those cases. There were 397 illicit drug deaths in the first 10 months of 2015.

British Columbia declared a public health emergency in April, after a sharp increase in drug-related deaths across the province. The province also relaxed rules around the availability of naloxone, a drug that can reverse some of the effects of an overdose.

The B.C. government has been concerned about China because of the lack of regulations around fentanyl.

The RCMP has seen a recent increase in illicit drugs arriving in Canada. In June, one kilogram of carfentanil from China was seized by the Canada Border Services Agency in Vancouver.

On October 10, Vancouver Island RCMP seized a kilogram of fentanyl during a routine traffic stop. On November 3, a package of Furanyl-fentanyl from China was intercepted at the Vancouver International Mail Centre.

"In China, compounds like fentanyl and their analogs are not controlled substances like they are here in Canada. People are free to make it, sell it and distribute it," said B.C. Health minister Terry Lake. "We think this will go a long way in stemming the flow of deadly fentanyl into British Columbia."

B.C. asking feds to do more

Lake and Premier Christy Clark were in Ottawa last week to ask for more federal action on dealing with the opioid crisis. B.C. has asked the federal government to create regulations around pill presses, often used to put illicit drugs into pill form, before being sold on the black market.

British Columbia is also 30 per cent short of capacity for RCMP drug enforcement officers.

"One of the other things we have asked the federal government for is to make sure the federal drug enforcement RCMP resources are brought up to 100 per cent," said Lake.