Courtesy of the Ottawa Police Service

Police in Ottawa made a disturbing discovery when conducting a drug bust, CBC Canada is reporting. In addition to finding a typical array of cash, drugs and guns, Ottawa police found a quantity of an “unknown powder” that has yet to be analyzed, and a counterfeit pill press capable of producing 20,000 counterfeit pills an hour.

Canada has a serious and deadly problem with counterfeit pills that have been made with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, instead of legitimate ingredients:

  • In May, CBC News reported that a pair of British Columbia middle-schoolers had died of fentanyl poisoning after taking counterfeit pills.
  • In March, Ottawa investigators confirmed that 14 year-old Chloe Kotval had died as the result of taking a counterfeit Percocet pill that instead contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. Earlier that month, according to CBC News, the Ottawa police and public health authorities put out a public health warning about counterfeit Percocet containing fentanyl. Unfortunately the warning did not come soon enough for Chloe.
  • Counterfeit Percocet made instead with fentanyl has also been found in Newfoundland & Labrador, where local police told CBC News that the pills were “round and white, with TEC stamped in the front. Police said they are very similar to authentic medically-prescribed Percocet tablets.” CTV News reports that there were two deaths and 14 overdoses in the region due to these fake pills.
  • Radio Canada International has reported that counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl have even reached Prince Edward Island. Police there report seizures of three types of fentanyl-laced pills: “a green pill that looks like Oxycontin, a blue pill with Percocet 5 stamped on it, and pills that look like Xanax in white, yellow or green.”
  • The Star is reporting that 25% of all organs transplanted in British Columbia this year have come from people who had been poisoned by fentanyl.

Sgt. Steve Knight of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit warned CBC News that fentanyl-laced counterfeits are a serious health threat in Canada, and that people may not know what they are taking: “Fentanyl’s been used to counterfeit percocet, oxycontin. When they come in they look exactly like the pill, the actual medication that’s been prescribed by a physician.”