Investigators with the Victoria Police Department have used a sophisticated drug scanning machine to detect the first confirmed case of carfentanil on the streets of the provincial capital.
The drug — which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl — was discovered mixed with heroin as officers scanned samples seized during the arrest of two men.
"There were over 900 overdose deaths in B.C. in 2016, and fentanyl played a part in many of those," said Staff Sgt. Conor King.
"While we were aware carfentanil may have already been here, this drug seizure confirms it."
To detect the illicit substance, investigators used a newly acquired ion scanner that's commonly used to screen airline passengers for explosives and drugs.
"It's really a big deal for us," said Staff Sgt. King.
"It's a game changer for us because we have been lacking in the technology thus far to make an immediate determination as to what drugs we've got coming into our facility here and that puts us at a certain amount of risk."
Carfentanil is commonly used to sedate large animals such as elephants and has no medical application for humans.
Police said one of the men arrested — Horst Francisco Schirmer — was wanted on arrest warrants for violating two sets of court-ordered conditions related to drug and weapons charges.
Schirmer and a second man were taken into custody on Aug. 2.