1 August 2017
A fourth man has been charged with importing, supplying and exporting class A drugs as the National Crime Agency continues to investigate the supply and distribution of synthetic opioids across the UK.
Kyle Enos (25) from Maindee Parade, Gwent was arrested in May 2017 after officers identified him using the dark web to purchase fentanyl/ synthetic opioids. He has been remanded in custody until his next hearing on 29th August at Cardiff Crown Court.
This follows the arrest of three men in April, after raids on a drug mixing facility in Morley, Leeds. All three were charged with conspiring to supply class A drugs.
The NCA is repeating its warning to drug users to be vigilant as evidence shows dealers mixing heroin laced with synthetic opioids – such as fentanyl and carfentanyl – and supplying it to customers both in the UK and overseas.
Fentanyl is a highly toxic synthetic opioid approximately 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. As little as 0.002g of fentanyl (within a typical 0.1g heroin deal) is potentially fatal.
There are a number of fentanyl analogues, including carfentanyl, which are compounds with a similar structure to that of fentanyl but with varying potency. Carfentanyl 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.
Due to the very small quantities in which fentanyl analogues can be consumed without lethal consequences, blending these with class A drugs is difficult and dangerous. The result is often inconsistent so the mixture or dose contains ‘hotspots’ - random concentrations of the fentanyl analogue.
If a user consumes a blended substance containing a ‘hotspot’, they will experience sudden and severe opioid poisoning, often with fatal consequences.
Since December 2016, post mortem toxicology results indicate that 60 drug related deaths in the UK were known to be linked to fentanyl or one of its analogues.
Ian Cruxton, Deputy Director at the National Crime Agency said:
“The threat of synthetic opioids is not new. However, since December 2016, we have seen a number of drug related deaths linked to fentanyl and carfentanyl.
“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.
“I believe the action taken in the UK by the NCA and our police colleagues has significantly reduced the risk to the public, and we will keep targeting the source of the threat. At the same time, drug users, their friends and families need to be vigilant. Public Health England has recently released guidance and I encourage people to take the time to visit their website and find out how they can protect themselves and their loved ones”.
Pete Burkinshaw, Alcohol/Drug Treatment and Recovery Lead at Public Health England said:
“Following the recent tragic overdose deaths, primarily in Yorkshire and the Humber early in the year, involving heroin mixed with fentanyl, PHE has been urgently investigating how widespread the problem is.
“We have been working with drug testing labs and local drug services to get more information on confirmed and suspected cases. We do not have a full picture, but the deaths in Yorkshire do appear to have peaked earlier in the year and fallen since our national alert and, encouragingly, our investigations in other parts of the country suggest we are not seeing the feared sharp increase in overdoses.
“Investigations are ongoing and plans are in place for a scaled-up response if necessary.
“The Local Government Association (LGA) has confirmed that the vast majority of local authorities do enable drug services to supply service users with an overdose antidote, naloxone. And encouragingly, most services can now provide this life saving antidote to family members of heroin users. We are working with the LGA to increase the provision of naloxone to those at risk and not currently in treatment, including through hostels, outreach workers, needle exchanges and drug users themselves.”