May 13 2013
MONTREAL - An extremely powerful drug has made its first appearance on Montreal’s black market, and it’s being produced in sordid conditions by amateur chemists.
In late April, Montreal police raided seven locations in Montreal, seizing more than 300,000 tablets of illegally-produced synthetic prescription drugs, including Viagra and Cialis.
“The fight against synthetic drugs is a priority for all of the province’s police forces,” said Cmdr. Francois Bleau at a Monday news conference.
The busts also yielded crystal meth, bath salts, methamphetamines, ecstasy, speed, steroids, oxycodone and 1,500 kilograms in untransformed ingredients — enough to produce three million pills.
But police consider the presence of bromadol and desmethyl fentanyl to be particularly worrisome.
Mario Guérin, an assistant director for the Montreal police, said investigators found three kilograms of desmethyl fentanyl after they sent the seized pills to the lab for analysis.
Fentanyl on its own is a powerful painkiller in the form of a patch that is usually prescribed to cancer patients and people suffering from chronic pain disorders.
The desmethyl fentanyl is a derivative of it that has been chemically modified to be even more potent and is reported to be 40 times stronger than heroin and 80 times stronger than morphine.
Montreal police said this is the first time they’ve come across desmethyl fentanyl on Montreal’s black market.
Public health officials have warned emergency room physicians about the drug, saying it's extremely potent.
The seized desmethyl fentanyl was toxic enough to affect four police officers who were handling the drugs for analysis.
"Even though they were wearing masks and gloves, still by being in contact with the product, they suffered from mild injuries. One of them had to hospitalized because of a heart condition," said police Insp. Marc Riopel.
Many of the pills are stamped with copycat logos of companies like Facebook, Tim Hortons and the Montreal Canadiens.
Bleau said the tactic is used to target young users.
In addition to the pills, police seized 1,500 kilos of chemicals capable of producing 3 million pills. Investigators said the pills were sold online and on the street. Some pills made it across the US border by being stashed inside microwaves.
Locations on in the city's Ville-Marie, Pointe St-Charles, Little Burgundy and Plateau-Mont-Royal districts were among those searched.
Police said they found sophisticated equipment used to produce industrial quantities of drugs — one machine was capable of producing at least one pill per second.