The B.C. Overdose Task Force is searching for better ways to prevent the nation-wide trafficking of fentanyl in order to help prevent overdose deaths.
So far this year, the number of deaths in B.C. from suspected illicit drug overdoses has soared to over 1,100.
The most recent attempt to fight B.C.’s overdose crisis introduces a way to check drugs for the potent opioid and its analogue carfentanil, among other substances, in the hopes of preventing more deaths.
But the other side to the overdose crisis is the supply of illicit drugs. That’s what Jennifer Breakspear with the Portland Hotel Society wants to see more enforcement agencies focus on.
“What we need is to stop the stream of poison access reaching the community,” Breakspear said.
Clayton Pecknold, director of Police Services in B.C. and co-chair of the B.C. Overdose Task Force, agrees.
Pecknold is one of the people involved in curbing the supply of fentanyl.
“The police have definitely embraced a harm reduction approach to this,” Pecknold told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.
“But … there’s poison in the drug system and it’s coming in from outside the country, and a certain amount of focused law enforcement needs to be involved.”
Drugs in the mail
The largest source of fentanyl flowing into the country has been tracked to China, according to Pecknold, and most of it makes its way across the border through mailed packages.
Pecknold said that a drug so toxic in small quantities, with high profit and that is easily concealed, is a “game changer” for law enforcement.
“It’s all of those factors that have created this somewhat perfect storm that’s a real challenge for policing and law enforcement to deal with,” he said.
Pecknold has seen more participation recently from the federal government, the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and the various local government departments all contributing to the conversation.
He hopes to find solutions through legislation.
“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this. But certainly a high-level pressure on those who are dealing and on the network that’s bringing it into the country needs to be maintained, and we’re working really hard to give the police the tools they need to do that.”
With files from the CBC’s On The Coast
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