February 17, 2017
Police have issued an urgent warning about a deadly new drug detected in Queensland which can kill in even tiny quantities.
Health professionals fear anyone who takes or comes into contact with the drug, Carfentanyl, risks death.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said Queensland Police and the Australian Border Force had both issued a warning about the very real danger posed by the drug.
“I am advised that Carfentanyl is a highly toxic and potent synthetic based drug, with a 0.002mg dose enough to kill a person,” Mr Ryan said.
“The fact that this illegal drug has been located in Queensland is very concerning and together with the police, we are urging people to not take any risks at all with this illicit drug.”
Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker, from the QPS Drug and Serious Crime Group, said police were very concerned to see the drug in Queensland.
“Because of its capacity to cause death, it is important we get the message out as soon as possible to the community,” he said.
The drug was intercepted by Border Force officers at a Brisbane mail centre and has been tested and positively identified as Carfentanyl.
“The drug is based on Fentanyl, but is significantly more potent,” Det Supt Wacker said.
“A small dose has the capacity to kill – this is not a drug anyone should be taking a risk with.
“Make no mistake, these are not party drugs. These are dangerous drugs and it’s not a matter of if it will kill you. This drug will kill you.”
Carfentanyl has been reported in the United States but is relatively new in Australia with one confirmed detection in Sydney by the ABF in December 2016, and now this most recent detection in Queensland.
“It is unclear how it would be marketed here, whether sold in its pure form or mixed with other drugs and sold as the latest ‘hook’. Either way, we know this drug is lethal and we need to get the warnings out now,” Det Supt Wacker said.
The drug is commonly used as a tranquiliser for large animals, including elephants, but the tiniest of doses is lethal for humans.
The QPS said information suggested that anyone who comes into contact with the drug on their skin or eyes was also at very great risk.
ABF Regional Commander for Queensland, Terry Price, also emphasised the seriousness of the find.
“This substance is roughly 10,000 times more potent than morphine. We will continue to work very closely with Queensland Police to investigate the circumstances behind this very troubling attempted import,” he said.
“The protection of the Australian community is something we are resolutely committed to. I’d like to commend our border officers for making this important detection in the international mail.”
Footnote: Time magazine earlier this week referred to Carfentanyl as a substance “so lethal it has been used as a chemical weapon and described as a terrorist threat”. China this week added the tranquilizer and three related synthetic opioids to its list of controlled substances from March 1.