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Halifax police issue warning after potent synthetic opioid found in search

Halifax police are warning the public about a highly potent synthetic opioid seized in a drug trafficking investigation in the city last month. Police said Thursday that they had searched a home on Dentith Road on Feb.
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Halifax police are warning the public about a highly potent synthetic opioid seized in a drug trafficking investigation in the city last month.

Police said Thursday that they had searched a home on Dentith Road on Feb. 12 and turned up about 1,900 pills that couldn't be identified.

The drugs were sent to Health Canada for an analysis that identified the tablets as isotonitazene, a synthetic opioid stronger than fentanyl.

It was the first such seizure of the drug in Halifax, police said.

"I don't know how prevalent it is, but I think that we've come across a significant seizure of it and given the nature of the drug it's certainly of worthy of putting attention to it," said Const. John MacLeod, a spokesman for Halifax Regional Police.

Aside from Halifax, MacLeod said police were aware of the drug's appearance on the streets of some Canadian cities including Calgary and Saint John, N.B.

The seized pills are a white triangle shape with an "M" scored on one side and an "8" on the other, and police say their appearance may lead people to believe they are consuming a different drug.

"The people that may be selling these individual drugs may not be identifying them as isotonitazene, they may be selling it as some other type of drug," said MacLeod. "Given it's in a tablet form people may mistake it for other opioids that are out there."

Police warn that given the drug's potency, a user may need several doses of naloxone to counter an overdose. They are urging anyone who consumes it to seek immediate medical assistance.

"Given the strength of it, it certainly has the potential to be fatal, even in small doses," MacLeod said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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