Recent research has placed the UK on top of the list of the host of fentanyl sales on the darknet in Europe. The research states that over 1,000 trades have been made so far over the past few months.
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The substance, which was originally synthesized by Belgian chemist Paul Jannsen is a controlled class A drug 50 times more potent than morphine and has recently flooded the UK, increasing the rate of drug-related deaths.
This study comes after repeated warnings from the National Crime Agency for people to be “vigilant about fentanyl to protect themselves and their loved ones”, and recommending that, they read guidance issued by the Public Health of England.
The drug has medical applications and is used as a strong, low-dose, short-duration, fast-acting pain reliever.
However, its power and the perceived easy mode of smuggling it has made it almost impossible for illegal drug suppliers to oversee its cutting. They make so much profit that they give little concern as to what will happen to its users.
The synthetic opioid has been the cause of about 60 deaths in the UK over the past two years.
A research team at the Institute since April 2017, has been searching through the world’s biggest dark web marketplaces. Its results are the discovery that the USA accounts for almost 40% of global darknet trade, followed by Canada (15%) and Australia (12%). The UK leads the chart in Europe with (9%), followed by Germany, accounting for 5% of total sales.
Speaking of this research, Joss Wright, also a researcher at the institute stated that: “Why is the UK a significant player? … It’s because we have a relatively strong tech sector and users of the web, but also geographically the UK is quite well placed for trade coming from the US.”
He said that since data gathering began in April, there had been 4,850 trades in the US and about 1,000 in the UK.
The National Crime Agency has revealed that, since 2016 December, postmortem toxicology results show that 60 people who died as a result of drug overdoses had a trace of fentanyl or a related substance in their system with a further 70 suspected cases yet to undergo testing.
“The threat of synthetic opioids is not new,” said deputy director of the NCA, Ian Cruxton.
He continued by saying however, “since December 2016, we have seen a number of drug-related deaths linked to fentanyl and carfentanil.”
“The NCA has been working with partners, both in the UK and overseas, to take action against those drug dealers who are playing Russian roulette with the lives of their customers by mixing synthetic opioids with heroin and other class A drugs.”
The UK has however not kept quiet about this crisis. They are fighting back in the best possible ways they can. Many arrests and busts have been made over the past months.
Just recently, in May, a 25-year-old by the name Kyle Enos, from Maindee Parade, Gwent was arrested after he bought these deadly synthetic opioids from the dark web.
He pleaded guilty to all three charges which were related to the supply of the synthetic opioids.
After his hearing, The National Crime Agency released a statement, saying that Enos used different identities to buy and supply “significant amounts” of the opioid in the UK, USA, and Canada between May 2016 and May 2017.
Enos also admitted to purchasing fentanyl from China and selling it on the dark web.
Going back to April too, three men were charged with conspiring to supply class A drugs, after a drug mixing facility in Morley, Leeds was raided by law enforcement.
The NCA then issued a warning that dealers were selling heroin, mixed with synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil.
“As little as 0.002g of fentanyl within a typical 0.1g heroin deal is potentially fatal,” the agency stated.
“There are a number of fentanyl analogs, including carfentanil, which are compounds with a similar structure to that of fentanyl but with varying potency.
“Carfentanil is as much as 10,000 times stronger than street heroin – 0.00002g, the equivalent of a few grains within a typical heroin deal, constitutes a lethal dose.”