A drug said to be 100 times more powerful than fentanyl has been detected for the first time in B.C. and law enforcement officials are warning drug users to “know your source.”
So what is W-18, and where did it come from?
As it turns out, the chemical was made by researchers right here in Canada, and is a synthetic opioid that was originally developed as a pain reliever in the 1980s but was never marketed commercially.
More than 30 years later, it’s now beginning to show up in street drugs, and according to police, the chemical is being bought online, often times from China.
- Invented by three chemists at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. It’s one of W-18 is one of 32 compounds, W-1 to W-32, with W-18 being the most toxic. A US patent is granted in 1984.
- Calgary police seize 110 Fentanyl pills from a home in southern Alberta. Health Canada confirms three pills contain W-18.
- Sweden makes the chemical substance illegal.
- A Florida man is sentenced for smuggling fentanyl into the states. Federal prosecutors confirm that DEA agents also found around 2.5 pounds of W-18 powder in the man’s possession. Investigators testify the drugs came from China via an inmate named Daniel Ceron serving time in a Montreal prison. Six months earlier in July of 2015, Ceron is arrested in Panama and accused of running a drug operation in the United States while locked up in prison.
- The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) confirms a seizure of 4 kilograms of an unknown substance during a fentanyl investigation in Edmonton in December 2015, is confirmed by Health Canada to be W-18.
- RCMP seize counterfeit oxycodone and percocet tablets during a drug bust in West Kelowna. Testing confirms the tablets contain W-18.
June 1st, 2016:
- Government of Canada announces W-18 has been added to Schedule 1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, making production, possession, importation, exportation or trafficking of W-18 illegal.
June 7th, 2016:
- Delta Police confirm that drugs seized in a bust on a suspected drug lab in Burnaby tests positive for W-18. Drug investigators suspect the W-18 was being manufactured to appear like heroin or oxycodone before being sold at the street level. They warn recreational drug users to “know your source”.