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Carfentanyl: Why police are so concerned about this deadly drug

The highly potent drug is used to sedate elephants.
The highly potent drug is used to sedate elephants. Photo: TND
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Police have good reason to dread the arrival of Carfentanyl in Australia – the synthetic opioid, used to knock out elephants, is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and extremely deadly.

The first batch was picked up by Australian Border Officers in Sydney, in December – within days of it first being detected on US streets as a mixer for heroin. Last month it reportedly killed 300 Americans.

Another lot was intercepted in a Queensland mail centre this week, prompting an urgent safety warning from the State’s Police Minister Mark Ryan.

“I am advised that Carfentanyl is a highly toxic and potent synthetic based drug, with a 0.002mg dose enough to kill a person,’’ he said.

If Carfentanyl becomes a booster powder for heroin users, we’ll be seeing less stick-thin junkies suffering a slow decline – because they’ll have died quickly from the tiniest pinch of the stuff.

That was the message from Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker of Queensland’s Drug and Serious Crime Group.

“Because of its capacity to cause death, it is important we get the message out as soon as possible to the community,” he said.

“A small dose has the capacity to kill — this is not a drug anyone should be taking a risk with.

Make no mistake, these are not party drugs. These are dangerous drugs and it’s not a matter of if it will kill you — this drug will kill you.
Detective Superintendent John Wacker

Carfentanyl is an analogue of the drug that apparently killed Prince, the pain killer fentanyl.

Fentanyl is playing a rapidly increasing role in the US prescription opioid epidemic that killed 183,000 Americans between 1999 and 2015. These figures come from the Center for Disease Control.

Overdoses from prescription drugs and heroin are the leading cause of accidental death in that country. Hence the opioid death toll in the US runs higher than the road toll. Struggling rural communities are being decimated.

In the tedious street lingo of drug dealing, fentanyl is known as murder8.

Carfentanyl is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. In fact, it’s the strongest commercially used opioid on the planet.

There is some good news.

On Thursday, China, the main manufacturer of the fentanyl, announced it was banning the manufacture and sale of four variations of the synthetic drug, including carfentanyl. From March 1 the drug will be added to China’s list of banned substances.

Prince
The drug is a variant of fentanyl, believed to have have been responsible for the death of pop star Prince. Photo: Getty

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is all but dancing with joy – officials calling the ban a “game-changer… this is great news’”.

The ban comes after six months of talks between the Chinese and US governments. The DEA is reportedly optimistic that illegal imports of fentanyl will slow significantly, along with the death rate.

From July through October last year, the DEA made more than 400 seizures of carfentanyl across eight states.

China was slow to admit its role as global leader in manufacturing and exporting of carfentanyl. A senior official at China’s Ministry of Public Security’s Narcotics Control Bureau told the China Daily there was no proof that Chinese-made carfentanyl was killing thousands of Americans and Europeans.

“It is mere speculation, as there is no solid evidence to prove the source, the exact number of victims, or the severity of the problem in these countries,’’ the official said.

US diplomacy managed to turn China around.

– with ABC

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