Carfentanil is the world’s most powerful and deadly opioid, considered to be 100 times more powerful than its relative, fentanyl, which by itself is 50 times more powerful than heroin. Created as an anesthetic for large animals, it was never intended for use on humans.
As with many new synthetic drugs, once someone discovers the drug can make you high as a kite, it then finds its way into clandestine labs, most of the time, nothing more than a backroom in someone’s house or garage, where it is produced as an illicit drug for America’s drug culture.
The drug is so dangerous that even manufacturing it has its risks. Getting the powder on your person or inhaling it accidently can kill you, but the market is so lucrative that many Chinese overlook the dangers and take the risk in producing it. The drug is sold openly on the Internet and the anonymous Tor network.
Russ Baer, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration told Reddit, “We’re seeing a lot of the activity take place over the Internet through anonymous relationships between a consumer and the drug manufacturer or source of supply.”
A recent Associated Press investigation revealed that despite the dangers, Chinese vendors willingly sold carfentanil and other illicit drugs openly online. The AP identified Chinese 12 businesses that said they would export carfentanil to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, and Australia for as little as $2,750 a kilogram (2.2 pounds).
“We can supply carfentanil … for sure,” a saleswoman from Jilin Tely Import and Export Co. wrote in broken English in a September email. “And it’s one of our hot sales product.”
Carfentanil is not a controlled drug in China, and is openly sold online there. The U.S. government has been trying to get China to “blacklist” the drug, but Beijing has yet to act on the requests, and in the meantime, the deadly drug continues to flow unabated into the country.
Carfentanil was researched as a chemical weapon
Long before drug dealers discovered carfentanil, the deadly opioid and others like it were researched as chemical weapons by the U.S., U.K., Russia, Israel, China, the Czech Republic and India, according to publicly available documents, reports CTV News Canada.
“It’s a weapon,” said Andrew Weber, the assistant secretary of defence for nuclear, chemical and biological defence programs from 2009 to 2014. “Companies shouldn’t be just sending it to anybody.” According to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the chemical is banned from the battlefield.
CBS News is reporting the AP says they did not actually buy any carfentanil from any of the Chinese businesses they contacted, so they were not able to have laboratory tests done to determine if the products were genuine. But Canada recently seized a one-kilogram shipment of carfentanil described on shipping documents as being “printer accessories” that was sent from China.
The chemical industry in China is huge, with over 160,000 businesses, many of them illegal, but with officials willing to look the other way for a handful of money and so many of the labs being little more than a “hole-in-the-wall” setup, it’s easy to see how illicit drug manufacturing is big business in China.