An elephant tranquilizer that's 100 times more toxic than fentanyl has shown up in dozens of Lower Mainland drug tests.
Today, the B.C. government announced that LifeLabs has detected carfentanil in 57 of 1,766 urine analyses performed between January 10 and 24.
The urine samples came from treatment facilities in Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, New Westminster, and Maple Ridge.
According to the government, one or two grains of carfentanil can be fatal to people.
LifeLabs created the test and reports are being forwarded to the Ministry of Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Toxicology Lab has been approved to conduct carfentanil tests.
"Through the $5 million in provincial funding announced September 2016 to support the work of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response, the toxicology lab recently purchased a new testing instrument called a tandem mass spectrometer to help improve capacity, sensitivity and specificity to confirm new opioid drugs like carfentanil," the government stated. "The centre is completing validation of the new tests and the new equipment will begin testing samples for carfentanil in March."
In December, the Straight reported that carfentanil was suspected to be linked to a surge in drug overdose deaths.
By the end of last year, 914 people had died in B.C. of drug overdoses, nearly doubling the previous record.
Today's statement noted that illegal carfentanil and fentanyl are believed to be coming into Canada from China, and the Mounties are working with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security to disrupt trafficking networks.
"Under proposed federal amendments to legislation with are currently before the federal legislature, the Canada Border Services Agency will also soon have new powers to inspect packages under 30g, which will assist with interdiction of small quantities of these illicit drugs," the government stated.