Kelowna fentanyl processing fuelled 'public health crisis' in Calgary
By Marshall Jones
An industrial pill press was removed from a West Kelowna warehouse March 3, 2016.
Image Credit: RCMP
March 16, 2016 - 2:32 PM
KELOWNA - Fentanyl overdoses have killed scores of people in Alberta and Calgary police think they finally know where it was coming from.
Calgary Police Service estimates Kelowna fentanyl re-processing facilities were shipping as many as 100,000 pills per month until they were dismantled by Kelowna RCMP earlier this month. That’s welcome news in a city and a province hit hard by fentanyl last year.
“If you add up all the traffic accidents and homicides in Calgary last year, you aren’t even close to the number of fentanyl deaths,” Calgary Police Service Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta says.
For the record, last year 23 Calgarians died in traffic fatalities, 33 died by homicide and 90 people died of overdoses involving fentanyl. Alberta-wide, 270 people died of fentanyl overdoses last year.
“We have a public health crisis in this city,” Schiavetta says.
It’s no less of a problem in B.C., though the province appears to have a much harder time breaking out fentanyl from other opiate and other drug overdoses. Last year, 465 people in B.C. died of drug overdoses, an increase of 27 per cent from 2014. The B.C. Coroners Service estimates roughly 30 per cent of those cases involved fentanyl.
Illegal sources of fentanyl are being sourced from China, Schiavetta says, and are re-processed once it’s here. Trouble is no one knows the purity of the original product or the re-processed product so by the time it’s in the hands of users, it’s nearly impossible to find a proper dose for the drug that’s considered exponentially more potent than heroin.
Calgary police haven’t found any re-processing facilities there, leading them to believe the bulk of it comes from outside, like Kelowna.
Earlier this month, Kelowna RCMP made multiple arrests and took three pill presses out of commission from the Central Okanagan, though charges have not yet been approved.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones at email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016