Some of the product taken from one of three drug labs raided last month.

Some of the product taken from one of three drug labs raided last month.

Deadly opiate arrives in Metro Vancouver

Delta Police find W-18, a drug that is 100 times more potent than Fentanyl

The most deadly opiate known has arrived in the Lower Mainland, as police found it during raids in Surrey, Burnaby and Richmond.

The drug is known as W-18 and was first created at the University of Alberta in 1982, was patented in the U.S. a couple of years later, but was never used medically.

Medical experts believe it may have been just too strong for pharmaceutical use.

It is believed to be 100 times more potent than Fentanyl, which is responsible for several deaths in the Lower Mainland.

Now, it’s here.

On March 17, 2016 as part of an investigation initiated by the Delta Police Department, search warrants were executed at three separate locations in Burnaby, Surrey and Richmond. What was believed to be a fentanyl processing lab was uncovered.

However, much of the drug was also found to contain W-18, prompting a warning from the Delta Police Department.

“The street level use of drugs like W-18 is still in its infancy in Canada and it appears users are completely unaware of its presence in the drugs they are consuming,” said Delta Chief Constable Neil Dubord. “It is very apparent to us that drug traffickers are aware of the deadly game they are playing with human lives in the manufacture and sale of these counterfeit drugs. In the seizures done by our investigators, the accused were carefully protecting themselves with respirators, gloves and goggles during the process and yet went on to knowingly sell this product to unsuspecting users. The motivation of these individuals to make money clearly supersedes their social responsibility in this equation.”

Drug investigators believe that the W-18 was being manufactured to appear like heroin or oxycodone before being sold at the street level. For users, this results in a much higher and deadly risk of overdose as they are exposed to a drug they have no tolerance for. In many cases, users are not aware that W-18 (and/or fentanyl) is in the drug that they are consuming. Because the counterfeit heroin and oxycodone are manufactured in clandestine labs, there is no guarantee that the W-18 or fentanyl is evenly distributed or mixed throughout the cutting agent. This causes street users to face potential overdoses from “hot spots” of fentanyl or W-18.

It was only this month that it was added to the Class A narcotic under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, meaning it is now illegal.

Because of that the two people arrested cannot be charged with having W-18, but will fact charges related to cocaine and fentanyl.

While Delta Police advise against using drugs, for people who choose to use Delta Police are offering the following reminders:

  • fentanyl and W-18 cannot be detected by looks, smell or taste and are being misrepresented and sold by drug dealers as other drugs;
  • do not use alone and start with a small amount;
  • do not mix with other substances as it can increase the risk of overdose;
  • use where help is easily available;
  • do not be afraid to call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Provincial Medical Health Officer Perry Kendall said Tuesday it was just a matter of time before the drug made its way to the Lower Mainland.

“It wasn’t unexpected, and if it gets into the drug supply, I think we would be very concerned about it,” Kendall told The Leader in an interview.

He has seen reports that it is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, but says he hasn’t seen any hard science behind that claim.

Kendall believes it will respond to naloxone, a drug which counters the effects of opioids, such as fentanyl and heroin.

He said it’s possible the drug may become unpopular and will simply no longer be used.

“If you look at the epidemiology of specific drug use, a particular drug does become popular for a period of time,” Kendall said, pointing to the use of crystal methamphetamine which became popular about 15 years ago.

“The users become very aware of the potential side effects, and use tends to decrease,” Kendall said.

The insidious nature of this drug is that the users are unaware that they are taking it. It’s being sold as heroin.

“At some point, presumably the drug becomes too dangerous, and people become too aware of it to use it,” he said. However, he notes, the use of it doesn’t appear to have plateaued yet.

In the meantime, the best protection against overdose is education.

Kendall says users should know their supplier well, never use alone, and always have naloxone available in case of overdose.

“Maybe at some point we’ll reach the point where we figure that having people taking very dangerous illicit drugs is not a good thing and maybe we will come up with a legal substitute,” Kendall said. “But I think we’re quite a way away from that at the present time.”

To date, 5 individuals have been arrested in connection with the Delta Police investigation. 35-year-old Scott Pipping of Surrey and 27-year-old Adam Summers of Delta are facing over 20 charges and are being held in custody.  Three other individuals have also been arrested for various offences including trafficking in a controlled substance with charges against them pending.

 

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP detachment. (Contributed file photo)
RCMP investigating report of shots fired in South Surrey

Police say they have not yet found evidence to confirm incident

Bucketheads – A Star Wars Story is being filmed near the 19000-block of 16 Avenue in South Surrey. (Mychaylo Prystupa photos)
Star Wars fan film ‘Bucketheads,’ shot in South Surrey, makes its debut

Volunteer initiative features new LED screen technology

Darlene Bennett, right, speaking about her murdered husband Paul at a press conference in 2018. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Widow of Surrey murder victim seeking referendum vote on policing transition

Darlene Bennett files application with Elections BC seeking binding referendum vote

Canada’s Janet Leung steals second base during playoff action at the Softball Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament in South Surrey on August 31, 2019. Leung and her teammates have not been back to Softball City since, as the 2020 and now ‘21 Canada Cup tournaments have been cancelled. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck photo)
Canada Cup softball event cancelled for second straight year

Travel restrictions, health and safety concerns cited as reasons for cancellation

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Terry Driver as he looked around the time of the killing of Tanya Smith and the attempted murder of Misty Cockerill in Abbotsford in October 1995. No current photos are available of Driver.
‘Abbotsford Killer’ Terry Driver denied parole, deemed ‘high risk’ to re-offend

Driver murdered Tanya Smith, 16, and seriously injured Misty Cockerill, 15, in 1995

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

More than two million Canadians have received AstraZeneca and 17 have been confirmed to have VITT

A Mountie issued B.C. RCMP’s first ticket for non-essential travel May 1. (Black Press Media files)
Driver ticketed, told to ‘return to Lower Mainland immediately’ by Vancouver Island police

The motorist was originally pulled over for driving-related offences May 1

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Adam Hamdan has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorist charges given temporary residence in Canada

Adam Hamdan had been facing deportation to Jordan, where he holds citizenship through his Palestinian parents

Transit Police Const. Peter Kwok was filmed in December during an encounter on the Canada Line when a woman refused to wear a mask. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Woman who went viral by refusing to wear a mask on SkyTrain to pay $460 in fines

Footage of the December incident was recorded by the passenger, herself, and posted to social media

Lumber is shown in the back of a van in this recent image provided by the Saskatoon Police Service. The skyrocketing prices for lumber is fuelling a trend that has authorities across the country warning builders to keep their guard up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Saskatoon Police Service-Const. Derek Chesney *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It is a gold mine:’ Builders warned of rising lumber thefts across Canada

Many North American mills curtailed production temporarily earlier in 2020 because of COVID lockdowns

Most Read