Fentanyl super labs in Canada pose new threat for U.S. opioid epidemic

Police discovered a fentanyl lab in April near Vancouver. The spread of such labs in Canada could undermine U.S. enforcement efforts and worsen the opioid crisis in both nations. (Courtesy Vancouver Police Department)

At a rural property an hour outside Vancouver in October, Canadian police found 2.5 million doses of fentanyl and 528 gallons of chemicals in a shipping container and a storage unit. Six months earlier, they raided a home in a cookie-cutter Vancouver subdivision packed with barrels of fentanyl-making chemicals, glassware and lab equipment.

Thousands of miles away outside Toronto, police in August found what is believed to be the largest fentanyl lab so far in Canada — hidden at a property 30 miles from the U.S. border crossing at Niagara Falls, N.Y.

U.S. authorities say they have little indication that Canadian-made fentanyl is being smuggled south in significant quantities. But at a time when record numbers of people are dying from overdoses in the United States, the spread of clandestine fentanyl labs in Canada has the potential to undermine U.S. enforcement efforts and worsen the opioid epidemic in both nations.

Investigators in Canada say the labs are producing fentanyl for domestic users and for export to Australia, New Zealand and, they assume, the United States.

“It’d be hard to believe it’s not occurring,” said Philip Heard, commander of the organized crime unit for police in Vancouver, a city hard-hit by fentanyl overdose deaths. “Most police leaders I’ve spoken to believe our production outstrips what our domestic demand is.”

The Canadian labs are a curveball for U.S. authorities whose efforts to combat fentanyl are focused on the southern border with Mexico. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has installed about $800 million worth of powerful scanning and detection equipment at land border crossings since 2019. Nearly all that technology has been deployed along the U.S. southern border, where CBP confiscated nearly 27,000 pounds of fentanyl during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the most ever.

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Good Answers to Hard (Insensitive,Inappropriate) Questions

I was utterly amazed at the questions people plied me with not long after Dominic’s accident.

They ranged from digging for details about what happened (when we ourselves were still unsure) to ridiculous requests for when I’d be returning to my previous responsibilities in a local ministry.

Since then, many of my bereaved parent friends have shared even more questions that have been lobbed at them across tables, across rooms and in the grocery store.

Recently there was a post in our group that generated so many excellent answers to these kinds of questions, I asked permission to reprint them here (without names, of course!).

So here they are, good answers to hard (or inappropriate or just plain ridiculous) questions:

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Two arrested after nearly 120 pounds of fentanyl seized in traffic stop, Iredell County Sheriff’s Office says

Officials seized enough of the drug to kill every person in North Carolina more than two times over.

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — Two people are in jail after the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office seized almost 120 pounds of suspected fentanyl mixed with cocaine during a traffic stop on Sunday. 

The two people, one from Mexico and the other from New Mexico were traveling on I-77 from Charlotte to Philadelphia in a tractor-trailer when they were stopped by the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Interstate Criminal Enforcement Team (ICE) for a traffic violation. 

During the traffic stop, ICSO K-9 Groot indicated the presence of narcotics in the tractor-trailer. After searching the vehicle, deputies located 120 lbs of suspected fentanyl mixed with cocaine, which has a street value of $3.75 million.

Deputies said that they seized enough of the drug to kill every person in the entire state of North Carolina – two and a half times over.

Read the full article and watch the video on the WCNC website.

Two new North Carolina laws change fentanyl fines, concealed carry rules

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Dozens of new laws are now in effect in North Carolina as of Dec 1.

Some deal with stricter fines for drug traffickers, while others deal with election law. WECT News took a closer look at two of them.

Senate Bill 41

Part of Senate Bill 41, introduced by State Senator Danny Britt Jr., is now in effect in North Carolina. The part of the law now in effect allows concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms to places of worship that also have schools.

See WECT web site for remainder of their conent regarding Senate Bill 41.

Senate Bill 189

“An act to increase the fine imposed on persons convicted of trafficking in heroin, fentanyl, or carfentanil” will increase the fines for people convicted of drug trafficking who have between 4-14 grams of the substance on them.

The fine increase is from $50,000 to $500,000. That’s a 900% increase.

Barbara Walsh lost her daughter, Sophia, to fentanyl poisoning at just 24 years old. Sophia died after drinking fentanyl from a glass of water, but the family didn’t find that out until months after her death.

Walsh says she hopes the new law with an increased fine will be enough to curb traffickers from selling or distributing the lethal drug.

“I think that is a deterrent for people to think twice about trafficking fentanyl, and maybe it will save somebody’s life,” Walsh said.

While the new law can’t bring back her daughter, she hopes it could save others’ lives in the future.

“We’re paying it forward for unfortunately the eight people who die every day from fentanyl in North Carolina,” Walsh said.

The DEA reports that just one gram of fentanyl can kill 500 people.

Walsh founded the non-profit, Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina, after her daughter’s death. She works with families across the state who have lost a loved one to fentanyl and encourages those who want support to join.

Copyright 2023 WECT. All rights reserved.

Overdoses were finally on the decline in NC. The pandemic reignited the crisis.

Fatal overdoses in North Carolina had finally started to decline.

After steadily rising for years, deaths dropped by 7% in 2018, despite the growing prevalence of fentanyl, an opioid even more potent and deadly than heroine.

The state had aggressively invested in fighting the opioid crisis — it expanded access to evidence-based treatment, sent Narcan to at-risk areas and reduced medical dispensing of opioids.

Low overdose numbers in 2019 seemed to confirm the efforts were paying off.

People in the NC Department of Health and Human Services started believing it was possible to meet a goal they had set back in 2016: to cut the expected overdoses in 2024 by 20%.

“There was a lot of hope in those two years before the pandemic,” said Mary Beth Cox, a substance use epidemiologist DHHS.

Then COVID-19 hit.

“Who knows where we would have been if the pandemic hadn’t happened?” Cox said.


Loneliness and social isolation became more common. It became harder to send Narcan out into the community. Support groups and treatment centers transitioned online.

“You can do group therapy on the phone or in video, but it’s still not true connection,” said Ellen Stroud, who directs addiction and management operations for the state’s opioid response. “And that’s really a huge part of recovery.”

Disturbing data began emerging.

In the first year of the pandemic, fatal overdoses in the state shot up by 40%. In 2021, deaths increased by an additional 22%.

Continue reading “Overdoses were finally on the decline in NC. The pandemic reignited the crisis.”
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