The scourge of carfentanil had hit Australia late last year, and authorities are concerned about the rising prevalence of the fentanyl variant.
In October, the Inquisitr wrote about the rising worldwide problem of carfentanil (also spelled carfentanyl), which had, at that time, gotten the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The drug is said to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine and a hundred times more powerful than fentanyl, and was created in 1974 to sedate large animals such as moose and elephants, or for use as a chemical weapon. The report added that there were 19 deaths linked to carfentanil in Wayne County, Michigan, between July and October of 2016.
Last year, pop superstar Prince’s untimely death was linked to his use of fentanyl, as was determined by medical examiners from his home state of Minnesota, BBC News wrote.
CBS News also reported that Chinese vendors have been very eager to sell carfentanil online and export it to several first-world countries, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia, with prices estimated to be as low as $2,750 per kilogram. A saleswoman for a Chinese company supplying the drug was quoted as saying that it was a “hot sales product.”
According to Australian publication The New Daily, the first batch of carfentanil in Australia was confiscated by border officers in Sydney in December. This happened just days after U.S. authorities had determined that it was being blended with heroin and sold to users. And when a new batch was picked up last week at a Queensland post office, state Police Minister Mark Ryan issued a concise statement, warning people about how tiny doses of carfentanil can turn out to be fatal.
“I am advised that carfentanil is a highly toxic and potent synthetic based drug, with a 0.002mg dose enough to kill a person.”
Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker of Queensland’s Drug and Serious Crime Group issued his own statement on what could happen if carfentanil is mixed with heroin as dealers do so in the U.S.
“If carfentanil 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.
“Because of its capacity to cause death, it is important we get the message out as soon as possible to the community. A small dose has the capacity to kill — this is not a drug anyone should be taking a risk with.”
— Erika Kinetz (@ekinetz) February 16, 2017
Wacker also warned that carfentanil is not a “party drug,” one so dangerous that there’s no question of whether the drug could kill.
According to ABC News Australia, authorities have encountered cases of carfentanil users being at “very great risk” even if they don’t actually ingest the drug, but simply have it on their eyes or their skin. Furthermore, tracking the drug has proven to be problematic, as it is only recognizable via scientific testing.
The New Daily added that there may be a silver lining with regard to the carfentanil problem in Australia. On Thursday, Chinese officials announced that the country is cracking down on both the manufacture and sale of fentanyl and its four variations, carfentanil included. The fentanyl ban will take effect on March 1, and DEA officials have been quoted as referring to the ruling as a potential “game-changer.”
A separate report from CNN noted that the ban came after six months of negotiations between U.S. and Chinese government officials. This also came more than a year after China had banned over 100 synthetic substances, including a few fentanyl variants, but not carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl, acrylfentanyl, and valeryl fentanyl, which are all included in the most recent ban. Nonetheless, DEA spokesman Russ Baer told CNN that there are still secret labs in China that tend to work on new synthetic drugs to replace substances that have just been banned.
Meanwhile, ABC News noted that there’s a chance there may be more carfentanil found in Australia, specifically in Queensland.
[Featured Image by Royal Canadian Mounted Police/AP Images]