Delta RCMP are urging drug users to be extra vigilant and "know your source" after a powerful new drug was discovered during a recent drug bust.
Police searched labs in Burnaby, Surrey and Richmond and say it's possible the drug was circulated in all three of those locations.
W-18 is 100 times more toxic and potent than fentanyl, according to police, and was originally manufactured in the 1980s as a pain reliever.
Drug investigators think the W-18 they discovered was being manufactured under the guise of heroin or oxycodone before being sold on the streets.
Since many users don't even know W-18 — or fentanyl — is in the drugs they are taking, they say the risk of a deadly overdose is high.
Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord says the discovery of the highly potent drug is a wake-up call.
"The street level use of drugs like W-18 is still in its infancy in Canada and it appears users are completely unaware of its presence in the drugs they are consuming.
"It is very apparent to us that drug traffickers are aware of the deadly game they are playing with human lives in the manufacture and sale of these counterfeit drugs."
While Delta police advise against using drugs, for people who choose to use, the police department is offering the following advice:
- Fentanyl and W-18 cannot be detected by appearance, smell or taste and are being misrepresented and sold by dealers as other drugs.
- Do not use drugs alone and start with a small amount.
- Do not mix them with other substances which can increase the risk of overdose.
- Use where help is easily available.
- Do not be afraid to call 911 for assistance.