SURREY â€” Local police are issuing a public warning after uncovering a "significant amount" of counterfeit prescription Oxycontin pills last month.
The 4,700 tablets were seized by the Surrey RCMP’s Drug Section from two locations in Surrey on Sept. 5 following an investigation. The street value of the drugs are estimated to be in excess of $350,000.
A chemical analysis confirmed that these tablets contain elements of caffeine and fentanyl, a powerful, synthetic opiate that is similar to but more potent than heroin or morphine.
As a result, the police felt it was appropriate to warn potential drug users of the danger of buying the pills.
â€œWe know that this prescription drug is a popular choice among recreational drug users,â€ said Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet. â€œAs a result, we want to warn those users in the community to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety.â€
Paquet said that drug dealers are often more concerned about making money than ensuring their customers are safe from potential overdose. In many cases, he said, the drug dealers are selling whatever they can to support their own addiction.
Counterfeit Oxycontin has led to many deaths across the country in 2014. Earlier this year, the BC Coronerâ€™s Service attributed 13 deaths to fentanyl overdoses in the first four months. None of these deaths have occurred in Surrey.
Paquet acknowledged the unusual circumstances of cautioning people who are already engaged in illegal activity, but said public safety comes first.
"We’re always kind of caught between a rock and a hard place when we have to issue these warnings, but no matter what segment of our population is at risk we have a responsibility to do our due diligence and warn our citizens."
The Surrey RCMP Drug Section is continuing to investigate the counterfeit pills but advises drug users to be extremely cautious. The pills are of a greenish marbled colour and have â€œ80â€ imprinted on them.
If you see someone appearing to be in medical distress you are urged to call 9-1-1 immediately. If you have taken drugs and donâ€™t feel well, seek medical attention or help immediately.