On Friday, a home on Borden Drive was blocked off by Yellowknife RCMP and the fire department after a suspicious powder was found during a search.
Now, RCMP have confirmed that the substance found was furanyl fentanyl, a street opioid sold as a designer drug.
“This is the first time that we have seen this type of fentanyl on the streets of Yellowknife and within the Northwest Territories”, said RCMP Sgt. Dean Riou in a statement.
Police have confirmed to Moose FM that the search warrant was executed as part of an ongoing investigation into suspected opioid use.
Eight fentanyl overdoses in 48 hours
The search took place the same day that the territory’s chief public health officer issued an opioid warning after Stanton Hospital saw eight suspected fentanyl overdoses in 48 hours.
Dr. David Pontin is an emergency physician with the hospital. Before last week, he had only seen two or three opioid overdoses in Yellowknife in his ten-year career.
“What I highly suspect is that there is a batch of drugs here in town, a batch of synthetic fentanyl that is different and is way more potent than the street fentanyl that is out there,” Dr. Pontin said.
“Someone has brought into town a batch of hyper, hyper-potent street fentanyl, and that’s why we’re seeing a spike here.
“It’s not that the users are changing or the intensity of the use [is changing], what we’re seeing is a difference in the drug.”
Riou said the “seizure demonstrates that drug users can never be certain what they are putting into their bodies when they use drugs that have not been prescribed by a medical professional.”
Search warrant executed at the residence
In an email, RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon told Moose FM the home was blocked off as part of a suspected opioid investigation.
While she could not confirm a connection between the home and Yellowknife’s spike in opioid overdoses, she did say that “a judicially authorized search warrant was being executed at the residence.
“Police resources were flown in from the Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Teams from British Columbia and Alberta [to assist with the execution of the warrant],” she said.
Yellowknife’s hazmat unit also aided in the investigation.
The Borden Drive home was secured on Friday around 8:30 a.m. and the residents were released around 6:00 p.m. the following day.
As police continue to investigate, officials say the public is not at any increased risk.