Border agents in Vancouver have seized a package of highly toxic carfentanil shipped from China to Canada that could have been turned into 50 million deadly doses and sold on Canadian streets.
The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Vancouver announced on Tuesday that they identified and seized a package in late June at the Vancouver International Mail Center containing approximately one kilogram of carfentanil imported from China. The package was disguised as printer materials and was addressed to a man in Calgary -- a city in the western province of Alberta.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Calgary, working with the CBSA, arrested 24-year-old Joshua Wrenn on July 5 at his Calgary home. Authorities are accusing Wrenn of attempting to import carfentanil and he is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Oct. 19, 2016 in Calgary.
Police charged Wrenn with one count of importing a controlled substance and one count of possession of a controlled substance with the intent of trafficking.
"This was the second carfentanil seizure for the CBSA in Vancouver," CBSA spokeswoman, Kathy Liu, told Xinhua on Wednesday. "The first seizure occurred at the Vancouver International Airport and the matter is still under investigation."
She said from Jan. 1, 2010 to March 31, 2016, the CBSA also recorded 84 seizures of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, with 87 percent seized in the postal and courier modes.
Pure powder fentanyl and its analogues account for the bulk of CBSA seizures (74 percent), followed by pharmaceutical products such as the fentanyl patch (22 percent) and counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl (4 percent), she said.
Liu declined to share details when asked by Xinhua where in China the shipment originated, and whether or not an Chinese individual has been identified by CBSA officials in the investigation.
"As the investigation is ongoing, we cannot provide additional information at this time," Liu said. "However, the CBSA is committed to working closely with its domestic and international security partners to ensure the safety and security of Canada's border."
Carfentanil is a fentanyl variant and is one of the most potent opioids known, police said. It is listed under Canada's Schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and is 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
A dose of as little as 20 micrograms would be fatal to an average human.
Fentanyl has been causing a striking number of drug overdose deaths in recent months across Western Canada, prompting British Columbia's chief health officer to declare a public health emergency.