Law enforcement officers in Canada have seized a huge haul of synthetic opioid carfentanyl from a property in Ontario.
In what is thought to be the largest discovery of the deadly drug in the country to date, the Durham Regional Police Service recovered 53kgs of unknown substances from a residence in Oshawa last month, 42kgs of which was later identified as carfentanyl after laboratory testing.
The seizure, enough to produce 420,000 individual doses of the drug, had an estimated street value of C$13 million ($10.36 million).
Maisum Ansari has been charged with possession of carfentanyl for the purpose of trafficking and is currently awaiting a bail hearing.
Ansari’s property was searched by police after fire officers who were called to attend the scene after a carbon monoxide alarm went off noticed a suspicious substance in the basement.
Along with the drugs, investigating officers found 33 guns and other prohibited devices, including overcapacity magazines.
Prior to the identification of the substances, 33-year-old Ansari was charged with 337 firearms offences.
Carfentanyl, which is commercially licensed as a tranquiliser for large animals such as elephants, is an analog of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid legally available as pain management medication for human use which has been behind an epidemic of overdose deaths across North America in recent years.
Carfentanyl is some 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is itself between 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
An amount of carfentanyl weighing less than a grain of salt can be enough to kill a human.
Illegal batches of both substances typically produced in China are increasingly being added to street heroin.
Due to their potency, a slight misjudgement on the part of traffickers who use the drugs to bulk out their shipments of heroin can result in end users suffering fatal overdoses.
In September last year, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warned that carfentanyl had been linked to a significant number of overdose deaths across the country.
In a statement issued at the time, DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said: “Carfentanyl is surfacing in more and more communities.
“We see it on the streets, often disguised as heroin. It is crazy dangerous. Synthetics such as fentanyl and carfentanyl can kill you.”
In March of this year, a UK coroner warned about the danger of buying drugs such as carfentanyl on the dark web after a teenager overdosed on a relatively small amount of the potent tranquiliser he purchased from an illicit online marketplace.
Emergency workers and police responding 19-year-old Abu Ali’s death wore hazmat suits when entering his house, and had to remove his body in a biohazard bag to prevent members of the public from becoming infected.
Transnational crime syndicates flood Southeast Asia to exploit weak regional governance, UN study warns
A new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has cautioned that organised crime networks operating in Southeast Asia are generating record and even dangerous levels profit.
In a study titled Transnational Organised Crime in Southeast Asia: Evolution, Growth and Impact, the agency warns that recent law enforcement activity in the region and its surrounding areas has resulted in illicit groups altering their trafficking routes while transferring and scaling up their activities in locations with poor governance, partially around border areas.
Synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine have become the most valuable illicit market for crime syndicates active in the Southeast Asia region, partly on account of law enforcement action in China forcing narcotics producers to look for new production bases.
According to the report, transnational organised crime networks operating in Burma in cooperation with militias and ethnic armed groups are manufacturing and trafficking both crystalline and tablet methamphetamine.
The study also reveals that the region has become a hub for the global trade in counterfeit consumer goods and illicit pharmaceuticals, noting that Southeast Asia is a key transit point for illicit tobacco products and bogus medicines.
Elsewhere, the report reveals motorcycle gangs from Australia are relocating to the region in order to set up new chapters involved in drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering and other crimes.
The Australian gangs are said to have moved into the region to set up bases for their methamphetamine and drug precursor chemical operations after coming under increased pressure from police back in their home country.
UNODC concludes that the growing power and influence of organised crime in Southeast Asia is allowing illicit syndicates to use their financial muscle to further corrupt and undermine the rule of law, and that these groups now represent a primary threat to the public security, health and sustainable development of the region.
Speaking as the report was unveiled, UNODC Regional Representative Jeremy Douglas commented: “Organised crime groups are generating tens of billions of dollars in Southeast Asia from the cross-border trafficking and smuggling of illegal drugs and precursors, people, wildlife, timber and counterfeit goods.
“Profits have expanded and illicit money is increasingly moving through the regional casino industry and other large cash flow businesses.
“Southeast Asia has an organised crime problem, and it is time to coalesce around solutions to address the conditions that have allowed illicit businesses to grow, and to secure and cooperate along borders.”
Colombian man caught with half kilo of cocaine under wig at Barcelona airport
Police working at Barcelona’s El Prat international airport have arrested a man who was found to have half a kilo of cocaine concealed beneath an ill-fitting hairpiece.
Officers spotted the man after he arrived on a flight from the Colombian capital of Bogota.
They noticed that he was acting in a nervous manner and appeared to be sporting a disproportionately large hairpiece under a hat.
After taking him to one side for a search, investigators discovered a package of white powder that had been stuck to the man’s head underneath the outsized toupee.
The 65-year-old was arrested immediately, and was later charged after tests confirmed that the white powder was cocaine that was estimated to be worth €30,000 ($33,390).
In one photograph released by Spain’s national police force, the man can be seen from the side wearing a wig that protrudes to an unnatural height over the top of his head.
Another shot taken from the front shows the package of cocaine clearly visible beneath the hairpiece.
In a statement cited by the Reuters news agency, Spanish police said: “There is no limit to the inventiveness of drug traffickers trying to mock controls.”
Spain, which is one of the main entry points for cocaine exported into Europe from Colombia, has seen several novel large-scale smuggling attempts over the course of the past year, the majority of which appeared to have benefitted from better planning than the wig conspiracy.
Back in June, Spanish police revealed they had arrested 11 suspected traffickers after discovering a tonne of cocaine hidden inside fake stones shipped into the country from South America.
Investigators released a video that showed officers smashing open the bogus stones to discover 785 packages of cocaine, each of which was estimated to contain more than 1kg of the drug.
Just weeks earlier, police in the country announced they had smashed a South American organised trafficking network that injected large quantities of cocaine into plastic pellets before smuggling them to three specialist laboratories in Madrid and Toledo, where the drugs would be extracted by experts who had been flown in from Colombia.
Last August, Spanish investigators intercepted 67kgs of cocaine that had been concealed inside pineapple skins.
The gang behind the plot had hollowed out fresh pineapples before filling their skins with cylinders containing as much as 7kgs of cocaine each.
Wildlife trade NGO TRAFFIC holds two-day workshop intended to improve animal crime conviction rates across India
Illicit animal trade monitoring network TRAFFIC has helped organise a two-day conference in India intended to help local law enforcement officials improve wildlife crime conviction rates.
Held in cooperation with WWF-India, the Maharashtra Judiciary Academy and the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (Life), the event was designed to improve the knowledge of police officers responsible for wildlife crime in Maharashtra, Goa and Daman.
Dr Saket Badola, Head of TRAFFIC’s India office, said: “For any law in force, it is often not only the level of punishment but the surety of timely conviction, which act as crime deterrents.
“Proper orientation of judicial officers will ensure better implementation of wildlife, forest and environmental laws and help in controlling the crime.”
Commenting on efforts to crack down on wildlife crime in his region, Justice BP Dharmadhikari, Director of the Maharashtra Judicial Academy, said: “Over a period of time, Maharashtra has taken steps and passed several resolutions in the prevailing legal systems to protect and better manage the environment and forests.
“Most of the judges present may be dealing with such cases—therefore this orientation programme is very apt, timely and necessary.”
It was revealed earlier this month that a global crackdown on wildlife crime coordinated by Interpol and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) resulted in law enforcement officials in India making several seizures.
As part of the operation, Indian investigators discovered an infant langur that had been smuggled into the country from Bangladesh.
Elsewhere, the Indian Wildlife Crime Control Bureau seized a lesser flamingo from a pet shop, as well as live parakeets and munias during road checkpoint inspections.
The bureau was also involved in the discovery a smuggled lion cub that had been brought into the country from Bangladesh, and was scheduled for onward trafficking to the UK.
Back in February of this year, border inspectors working at India’s Chennai Airport in the state of Tamil Nadu stopped a man who was attempting to smuggle a weeks-old leopard cub into the country concealed inside his suitcase.
The man, who had arrived on a flight from Bangkok, was stopped when customs officials observed him behaving strangely while attempting to leave the terminal building, and then heard faint whimpering emanating from his luggage.
Indian and Burmese officials last year agreed at a bilateral summit to work more closely together to fight wildlife smuggling and drug trafficking on the border between the two countries.
In a statement issued last October, officials said: “It was… agreed to cooperate in preventing smuggling of wildlife and narcotic drugs and to strengthen cooperation on the international border management.”
- Transnational crime syndicates flood Southeast Asia to exploit weak regional governance, UN study warns
- Colombian man caught with half kilo of cocaine under wig at Barcelona airport
- Wildlife trade NGO TRAFFIC holds two-day workshop intended to improve animal crime conviction rates across India
- Police in US warn against flushing drugs down toilet through fear of creating ‘meth gators’
- How phone fraudsters are scamming people while pretending to be government officials
9 February 2018
9 February 2018
8 February 2018
28 November 2017
28 November 2017
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