Manitoba

Blotter carfentanil being sold on Winnipeg streets as 'drop dead,' police say

In a macabre example of truth in advertising, the deadliest street drug in Winnipeg has a street name befitting of its potency.

Police chief says he's concerned by market in Winnipeg for deadly opioid

Blotter carfentanil seized by police in September. (Winnipeg Police Service)

In a macabre example of truth in advertising, the deadliest street drug in Winnipeg has a street name befitting of its potency.

Blotter carfentanil — small pieces of paper infused with a synthetic opioid about 100 times stronger than fentanyl — is being sold on the street as "drop dead," Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth told the Winnipeg Police Board on Friday.

Smyth said Winnipeg appears to be unique among Canadian cities in that there appears to be a market for carfentanil, whose intended use involves the tranquilization of elephants or large ungulates such as moose. 

Police Chief Danny Smyth addressed the police board on Friday. (Bartley Kives/CBC)
While the opioid has appeared in other cities, sometimes as a replacement for less potent substances, there is a small population of drug users that actively seeks the drug here, the chief said.

"As much as carfentanil has shown up in other cities, there just seems to be a market for it here," Smyth said at city hall, citing information relayed to police by community health workers.

"It's just a surprise, to the community nurses and to us, that there actually is a market for carfentanil."

In September, the police service tactical team raided a hotel room and found 1,477 carfentanil blotter tabs. In its raw form, carfentanil looks like table salt. A dose as small as several grains of the substance may be fatal to humans.

The strength of any drug in blotter form is dependent on its concentration in solution before the paper is infused and dried.

"I think there could be some false sense of security that it's being uniformly distributed on the blotter. That would probably be one of the first areas I would highlight for users: they may not know the potency of what they're getting," Smyth said, adding he does not believe the "drop dead" nickname is acting as a deterrent.

"It doesn't seem to be slowing the market. It's certainly a macabre way to describe it."

Winnipeg tested the tabs seized in Septemvber for carfentanil. (Winnipeg Police Service)

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