The Growing Fentanyl Crisis in Canada and Thunder Bay

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Addiction issues need to be addressed
Addiction issues need to be addressed

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – Thunder Bay Police, along with the OPP across Western and Northern Ontario are engaged in a major war against illegal drugs. Where a few years ago, Thunder Bay was known as a “cocaine town” increasingly Opioids and Fentanyl have taken on a bigger portion of the local illicit drug market.

While overdose deaths are not widely reported, the number of deaths from Fentanyl in particular continue to grow.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid significantly more potent than morphine, has become a major concern in illicit drug markets worldwide due to its high potency and the resulting potential for overdose. It can be found on the street in several forms, often mixed with other drugs like heroin or cocaine to increase their potency. Here’s a general overview of how fentanyl might make its way to street-level drug dealers:

  1. Production: Fentanyl is originally manufactured for legitimate medical uses, such as pain relief for cancer patients. However, it can also be illicitly manufactured in clandestine labs. The primary countries where illicit production occurs are China and Mexico, but it can potentially be produced anywhere with access to the necessary precursor chemicals.
  2. Distribution: After production, fentanyl is then trafficked across borders. In North America, much of the illicit fentanyl comes from China—either directly or via Mexican drug cartels. It is often smuggled through legal points of entry hidden in shipments of other goods, sent through mail or courier services, or carried across borders by individuals.
  3. Mixing: Once the fentanyl reaches its destination, it’s often mixed with other drugs. This can happen at several stages before it reaches the street-level dealer. The person doing the mixing may not have a precise idea of how much fentanyl they are adding, which leads to inconsistent potency in the final product and increases the risk of overdose for users.
  4. Street-level Sales: Finally, the mixed product is sold to street-level dealers. These dealers then sell the drugs to consumers. Again, these dealers may not know the exact content or potency of the drugs they are selling.
  5. Darknet Markets: Additionally, fentanyl is sold on the darknet—an anonymous part of the internet where illicit goods, including drugs, are often sold. Products purchased on the darknet are usually mailed directly to the buyer.

The supply chain of fentanyl from manufacturer to consumer is complex and involves many steps, each of which provides opportunities for intervention to prevent the spread of this dangerous drug. However, its potency and the ease of smuggling small quantities make it a challenging problem for law enforcement.

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