British Columbia Police Suspect Fentanyl Caused Eight Deaths In One Week

By Victoria Kim 12/29/15

A potential bad batch of heroin laced with fentanyl has possibly added eight more victims to the ever-rising death toll. 

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Greater Victoria authorities in Canada are seeking answers after eight people died of suspected drug overdose in the region in one week. Five men and three women died over the week of Christmas (Dec. 20 to Dec. 26) in Greater Victoria, which lies on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Although a toxicology report has yet to be completed, the British Columbia Coroners Service suspects drug overdose claimed the victims.

“Most, if not all, of these people [who have died] are experienced drug users,” said coroner Barb McLintock. 

So far, the only confirmed overdose victim is a man who died in a downtown Victoria parking garage on Sunday, Dec. 20. He died of a mixture of morphine, heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine. He was the first of the eight dead found Christmas week.

In all of 2015, there have been about 450 fatal overdoses across the province, McLintock said. So eight in a week is significant—especially because three of the deaths happened within 24 hours.

Police say they suspect fentanyl is the prime cause of the overdose deaths. There was also an outbreak of more than 20 non-fatal overdoses the week prior.

CTV News reports that according to people who work closely with drug users, bad batches of heroin laced with fentanyl make their way to Greater Victoria two to three times a year.

“There’s certainly something going on with the drug community in Greater Victoria, whether it’s the function of the drugs or the dealers or the users or whatever,” said McLintock.

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