Calgary's fentanyl supply sourced in China, say police
Chinese companies guarantee delivery of the drug even if it's seized at Canadian border
Calgary police say fentanyl has become a challenge to crack down on because dealers can easily import the drug from Asian markets.
"You can order it online, on the internet," said Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta with the drug unit.
He says the potentially lethal opioid is a controlled substance in Canada, but not China.
"Companies guarantee delivery even if it's seized by Canadian Border Services Agency."
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Sgt. Schiavetta says the second external challenge for Calgary police is the underground processing of fentanyl in Western Canada.
He says organized crime rings often buy the powdered form of fentanyl from China, then have it converted into a pill domestically.
The commercial pharmaceutical tableting machines that illegal drug labs use to make "green apples" — a common street name for fentanyl — are not regulated in Canada. They are in the United States, but not in Canada.
"So we're seeing a lot of fentanyl being directed to our country and we're almost becoming a source for the northwest part of the USA," said Schiavetta.
In the Calgary area alone, police seized 10,000 fentanyl tablets in 2014 and have already brought in 13,000 this year.
"Unfortunately, man of the overdoses are young people," Sgt. Schiavetta. "Teenagers."
Calgary police and Alberta health officials have teamed up to raise awareness about the growing threat of the dangerous street drug.
The Blood Tribe in southern Alberta enacted a state of emergency over drug-related deaths in the community.
The chief of the reserve has said 20 people have taken fatal doses of fentanyl over the past six months, and another 60 have overdosed and survived.