If you follow the news at all, you have undoubtedly heard of fentanyl. It’s a synthetic opioid which is the strongest pharmaceutical available by prescription or on “the street”. It is said to be approximately eighty times stronger than morphine and a hundred times stronger than heroin. According to sources on both sides of the law, the Red Scorpions are the fentanyl kings of Vancouver Island. Red Scorpions equal death by fentanyl.
The Red Scorpions started in BC in late 1990’s. It is a non-ethnicity based gang. It’s main enemy is the UN gang (United Nations), another non-ethnicity based gang. The red Scorpion gang was originally formed in a young offender’s facility, just as Norteños was formed in a prison.
The Red Scorpions has been running “dial-a-dope” operations in Vancouver and the surrounding area since its inception. However, it has now spread out as far away as Calgary. Severely wounded or dead bodies follow in its wake as violence and murder is its signature.
The Red Scorpions are ruthless.
The gang seems to have no limits on what it will do to control the illegal drug market. It rules through fear and intimidation. The Red Scorpions consider race secondary to loyalty and respect. Gang members can often be identified by “RS” tattoos on their necks and/or arms.
Contrary to a popular misconception, the Red Scorpions was not started by the infamous Bacon brothers. These brothers actually jumped from the UN gang to the Red Scorpions.
It is that defection that is in a large part responsible for the violent and intense rivalry between the two gangs. Both the Red Scorpions and the UN gang have been involved in an increasing number of well-publicized incidents of gang violence in the Vancouver area with drive-by shooting between them almost common.
The Red Scorpions have been linked to some of the bloodiest murders on BC’s lower mainland.
It is allegedly behind the killing of six people in a condominium in the Surrey suburb of Whalley (pronounced “wally”) in 2007. Fortunately, anticipating what was coming in Surrey with its escalation of violence, my roommate and I had moved from the Surrey area before the real violence became commonplace there. We made a similar move away from Langford before the gang growth there. Stew Young‘s obsessive focus on “development over about policing” was my warning. It foretold the Surrey-ization of Langford, and its impending increase in crime, drugs and violence.
The Red Scorpions is one of the gangs that has a strong presence in Langford and part of the reason that I correctly predicted a wave of coming violence there. Just look at the arrival of the Devils Army. Then add the Red Scorpions, the UN, Norteños and gangsters like Ziggy Matheson and Ali Ziaee to the mix and disaster is the only foreseeable outcome.
These gangs all fight for territorial supremacy in the drug trade due to Langford’s ideal location in the Vancouver Island drug chain and due to Mayor Stew Young’s adamant refusal to hire enough police or institute a workable “policing model”.
Now back to fentanyl which the Red Scorpions largely control
How deadly is this drug? The U.S. military tried to weaponize it, and the Russians actually did so to end a siege by Chechen rebels.
The Moscow theater hostage crisis, also known as the 2002 Nord-Ost siege, was the seizure of the crowded Dubrovka Theater on 23 October 2002. 40 to 50 armed Chechens who claimed allegiance to the Islamist militant separatist movement in Chechnya took over the theater. They also took 850 hostages and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and an end to the Second Chechen War.
Due to the disposition of the theater, special forces would have had to fight through 30 metres (100 feet) of corridor and attack up a well defended staircase, before they could reach the hall in which the hostages were held.
The terrorists were well prepared.
The terrorists also had numerous explosives, with the most powerful in the center of the auditorium. If detonated those explosives could have brought down the ceiling and caused in excess of 80 percent casualties.
After a two-and-a-half day siege and the execution of two female hostages, Spetsnaz operators from Federal Security Service (FSB) Alpha and Vega Groups, supported by a Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) SOBR unit, pumped an undisclosed chemical agent into the building’s ventilation system and raided it.
The fentanyl was deadly effective.
All 40 of the attackers were killed, with no casualties among Spetsnaz [Russian Special Forces]. About 130 hostages died, including nine foreigners, due to adverse reactions to the gas. All but two of the hostages who died during the siege were killed by the toxic substance pumped into the theater to subdue the militants.
The use of the gas was widely condemned as heavy-handed, but the American and British governments deemed Russia’s actions justifiable. Physicians in Moscow condemned the refusal to disclose the identity of the gas that prevented them from saving more lives. Some reports said the drug naloxone was successfully used to save some hostages.
Fentanyl abuse may be a relatively new problem in Canada, but the drug has been around for over 50 years. It was first developed in 1959 and was originally used as an anesthetic. It has been killing addicts and casual users since the 1970’s and was known on the street as “China White”. The slow-release transdermal patches for chronic pain relief were introduced in the mid 1990’s
How about further local evidence of the killing power of fentanyl?
The following is excerpted from Maclean’s Magazine from an article by Jonathon Gatehouse and Nancy Macdonald.
“Over the past few months, fentanyl has been making headlines across North America. Police are discovering more and more of it on the streets, and overdose deaths are surging.
Authorities in Alberta linked the drug to 120 fatalities in 2014, and 50 more in just the first two months of this year. In British Columbia, it killed almost 80 people in 2014, and was responsible for a quarter of all drug deaths, up from just five per cent in 2012. In Ontario, where 625 people died of opioid overdoses in 2013. Fentanyl was involved in 133 of those cases and, each year, it now kills twice as many people as heroin.
But the deeper story of the drug and its abuse is even more worrying. Police and health workers now face an unprecedented situation. There is a burgeoning street trade in both the legitimate prescription patches and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. These are often sold in pill form and made to look like OxyContin, a far less powerful narcotic. The drug, also available in liquid and powder form, is increasingly being used to cut cocaine and heroin, dramatically boosting their potency, often with fatal consequences. Indeed, fentanyl seems to turning up almost everywhere you look. And it’s killing both inexperienced newbies and hardened addicts.”
In Montreal, in the summer of 2014, there were at least 25 overdose death. Six of them in just one week in June ere linked to fentanyl laced heroin.
- Police in Moncton, N.B., found two dead men inside an apartment last November. Next to them was a package of fentanyl powder they had apparently purchased online.
- Two major busts in Barrie, Ont., involved health care workers. One trafficking ring, in which false prescriptions were written with the help of a medical secretary, included two dozen people and 1,000 patches. The other involved an emergency-room physician, who was charged with 68 counts in connection to fraudulent prescriptions for 515 doses.
Since last summer, 16 deaths and dozens of non-fatal overdoses have occurred on the Blood First Nation reserve near Lethbridge, Alta., population just 12,000.
How about if we get local?
Vancouver: 29 deaths
Nanaimo: 18 deaths
Surrey: 15 deaths
Victoria: Official numbers are not available, but I personally know of 7 this year
A Vancouver police raid in March 2015 netted 29,000 fake Oxycontin pills which were really fentanyl pills and $215,000 in cash. Police in Alberta, meanwhile, have seized more than 20,000 fentanyl pills in the last year.
“It’s a problem. It comes in waves. It’s here,” Sgt. Donovan Tait with Nanaimo RCMP’s Street Crime Unit said. “We’ve seen it fairly consistently for the past 18 months. It’s been cropping up.”
Much of the supply comes from the Lower Mainland and is used as a cutting agent. There are even reports of it being used to lace marijuana.
From the August 11, 2015 VictoriaNews: “Sixteen people overdosed in Vancouver on Sunday alone — including six in one hour — from heroin that police suspect was laced with fentanyl. The drug has been linked to the deaths of four people in Metro Vancouver since July 20, 2015“.
How does fentanyl kill and why is it so lethal?
Fentanyl is an opioid which causes respiratory depression (slows down the breathing rate). Fentanyl is so powerful that even at low doses it can completely stop respiration in the most drug tolerant addict, let alone in a casual user.
Signs of fentanyl use are:
What others observe in users of opioids
- Drowsiness or “the nod.”
- Constricted or pinpoint pupils.
- Slurred speech.
- Impairment in attention or memory.
Early signs of a Fentanyl overdose
- Severe sleepiness
- Slow heartbeat
- Trouble breathing or slow, shallow breathing
- Cold, clammy skin
- Trouble with walking or talking
Opioid withdrawal signs
- Dilated pupils.
- Anxiety, irritability, anger (drug craving).
- Agitation (cannot sit still).
- Appears to be ill: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweats and chills, watery eyes, runny nose.
- Yawning and Insomnia.
The BC Coroners’ Service said fentanyl was a contributing factor in a quarter of the illicit drug overdose deaths in the province last year. The largest number of those occurred with street level consumers. Evidently, they unwittingly purchased heroin mixed with fentanyl and received combinations of both drugs in unknown dosages.
Naloxone reverses the effects of an opiate/opioid overdose if administered in time. Every addict should have Naloxone immediately available.
In certain progressive cities the U.S. addicts are given Naloxone with their “clean needle kits”. It is a drug that can safely be injected by even untrained personnel. But trust me when I tell you this, addicts are not untrained. They are experts with needles and drugs. This is such a simple solution to save lives because Naloxone has no negative side effects, unless our government considers saving the the life of an addict to be negative effect. We need to smarten up and implement the same model.
Why is fentanyl suddenly so popular?
Fentanyl replaces the disappearing supplies of oxycodone.
For several years, oxycodone was the pharmaceutical of choice among the “street crowd”. Lately though, Oxycontin (brand name for the generic drug oxycodone) basically disappeared from the underground market. This is because the makers, at the demand of North American governments, replaced it with a tamper-resistant formulation, called OxyNeo. Prior to that change, addicts used to crush the Oxycontin pills and snort it.
With the new iteration of Oxycontin being harder to abuse the result was that people seeking stronger opioids were forced to move to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a drug often sold in a slow-release patch form which drug abusers can chew for an immediate and extremely powerful high.
Fentanyl gives a more powerful high and a quicker high
Having tried fentanyl, if they survived, users found the high quicker and more intense. If you want to understand the high that comes from heroin, and keeping in mind that the effects of fentanyl are even more intense, think of the words from the Pink Floyd song, Comfortably Numb. “My hands feel like two balloons now; your lips are moving, but I can’t hear what you’re saying… I have become , comfortably numb…”
What determines the speed at which the body reacts to a drug?
Getting high quickly is dependent upon whatever you are ingesting getting past the brain blood barrier efficiently and as close to 100% pure as possible. Fentanyl, especially when smoked or chewed, is delivered to the brain at almost 100% purity. This is what makes it so addictive, and it is also what makes it such a killer.
Fentanyl is available in more forms than most other drugs and can be ingested in more ways
Fentanyl patches come in various strengths, with the size of the patch determining the absorption rate/strength. The patches are designed to release the fentanyl over a period of time and are most often prescribed for severe pain, pain that cannot be mitigated with morphine.
Patches are great for selling on the illegal drug market.
Those who acquire the patches solely to resell cut them up into small squares and sell those squares on the street. Patches are especially popular among the casual users. They can be used without friends or relatives knowing about a hidden drug habit and with little risk of discovery because no drug paraphernalia is required. However, that gig is up when the user is found dead, an all too common experience.
There are also many ways for the addict to abuse a used fentanyl patch
Just as the small squares are often cut from new patches and sold, used patches can be sold because they can be scraped to obtain any remaining fentanyl from them. They can also be chewed or even laid on a piece of tinfoil and heated from the underside to release a fentanyl smoke. The smoke is then inhaled through the use of a hooter or straw. When one is talking about addiction and illicit drugs, nothing goes to waste. The experienced addict can be almost endlessly creative in ways to extract dope from something that many might have regarded as worthless.
Not everything that comes from Ottawa is smoke and mirrors.
Almost two years ago, an innovative pharmacy in Ottawa started a program in which it refused to refill prescriptions for fentanyl patches unless clients brought back every single one of their used patches from their previous prescription. After consulting with local doctors and druggists, the city of North Bay launched its own patch for patch initiative that winter. One pharmacy saw the number of fentanyl prescriptions it was filling drop by 20 per cent overnight. Additionally, the street price spiked and within months almost no patches were available on the street. Some addicts have been trying to defeat the system by turning in counterfeit patches, but a simple test will soon be available to separate out the fakes.
People seeking opioids can give ‘Hollywood’ performances.
Addiction specialist Dr. Mark Ujjainwalla said some doctors wrongly prescribe opioids. They just haven’t kept up and don’t realize how addictive those drugs can be.
He said other doctors can be fooled.
“You have to remember that drug dependent, drug seeking individuals or entrepreneurial drug-seeking individuals who are trying to get the medication from their physicians can be very persuasive,” he said.
The Red Scorpions and other drug dealers love fentanyl. A drug dealer depends on addicts in order to make a living. Because of the greater addictive qualities of fentanyl and the fact that fentanyl is very cheap, drug dealers often adulterate every conceivable street drug they sell, even marijuana, with fentanyl. The fentanyl that is currently flooding Canadian markets is also often found in pill form. These pills have benign nicknames such as greenies, green beans and green monsters (all references to its greenish hue). But pill or powder doesn’t make it any less deadly; they both kill.
Fentanyl patches are cheap to obtain through provincial medical plans
According to Cst. Chris Auger of the Ontario Provincial Police, “A three-month supply—10 patches—costs $52.75, plus dispensing fee, in Ontario. It is fully covered under many private plans as well as the provincial drug-benefit scheme for fixed- or low-income earners. The going rate on the street for a single patch ranges from $100 in southwestern parts of the province, to $300 in Barrie and $600 in North Bay. “The people who sell patches are mostly the people who have prescriptions,” says Auger.
The Red Scorpions supply of fentanyl
Home based manufacturing
At this point it is not definitive from where the Red Scorpions obtain there fentanyl. The ingredients to manufacture raw fentanyl powder are not extremely difficult to find. They often come in from China or India. Anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of chemistry, along with a relatively crude lab can create an ongoing supply of powdered fentanyl. That powder, with the aid of an inexpensive pill press can produce thousands of pills a day. The powder that is not used to produce those pills is used to cut/adulterate heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and just about every controlled drug you can imagine, including marijuana.
There have been recent arrests in BC wherein huge quantities of powdered fentanyl were seized, along with “industrial” pill presses.
A corrupted professional supply source
Of course fentanyl patches are vastly more complex to manufacture and any ongoing supply of them points to a deeper and darker procurement chain. That chain involves doctors, nurses, and/or pharmacists. There is no profession which can claim that none of its practitioners are corrupt, addicted or greedy. Sadly, gangs such as the Red Scorpions are expert at forcing the cooperation of any person(s) who might advance its criminal enterprises.
Fentanyl masquerading as other drugs
The most insidious part of all this is that unsuspecting buyers are purchasing fentanyl when they think they are buying whatever drug it is that they ordered. The consequences of this are often deadly, even to a seasoned drug user who unsuspectingly ingests more of an opiate or opioid than he/she thought. To the casual user who has yet to develop a tolerance though, it is most certainly “R.I.P.” time.
Fake Oxycodone pills that are really fentanyl
Red Scorpions and other dealers are often so ruthless as to use fentanyl to manufacture pills and actually label them as Oxycontin. Then, the poor sap who thought he/she was ingesting oxycodone is suddenly taking a drug which is 80 times more powerful.
The facts are that non-user dealers of drugs don’t care whether you die or not. This is especially true with the Red Scorpions and other gangs because their lives are rooted in death and violence. They are happy to risk your life in order to get you more addicted so they can sell more of their poison.
The BC justice system is failing to protect us by releasing these drug dealing “merchants of death” on bail.
The primary consideration in whether or not an accused should be remanded to custody is a determination of whether remand is necessary to protect the public?
Bail Versus Drug Dealing, Versus Protecting The Public
Are street drugs a danger to the public? Is fentanyl a danger to the public? The answer is obviously, “Yes”. In fact, the law has averred that all illicit and controlled drugs are dangerous to the public [Do not even think about drawing me into the marijuana argument beyond what I have said about it in other postings]. If they were not, the government would have no reason to declare them “illegal”.
Accordingly, it follows by “black letter law” that anybody dealing in those illegal, street drugs is a danger to the public. That being the case, it also follows that anybody caught dealing those illegal substances could be, and probably should be, denied bail under the need to protect the public. This is especially true if there is a likelihood that such an individual might repeat that offense while out on bail.
Can Denial Of Bail Be Lawfully Used As A Deterrent;
What Crown Counsel needs to do
Once bail has been denied, and even if not denied, the onus shifts to Crown. Crown must impress upon the courts the need to impose a substantial term of incarceration on all drug dealers. This is especially true when the accused has been found guilty of selling fentanyl or fentanyl laced drugs.
The reality is that a drug dealer willingly sells death. Additionally, if he/she also happens to have gang affiliations is even less of a candidate for bail. After all, this individual is nothing more than an extension of a group to whom that individual has already sworn an oath to maintain a criminal lifestyle.
In fact, because of violent gang retaliation from gangs like the Red Scorpions, that person has sworn a greater oath to the gang than will ever be sworn to any court. This is true no matter what that individual or his/her attorney might promise. That is reality and it is a reality that must be imparted if the public is to be protected and the growth of fentanyl or any gang is to be thwarted.
Courts in Barrie, Ontario are wising up.
The courts in Barrie, Ontario have taken a sensible approach that recognizes the severity of the crime of dealing fentanyl . “In a recent false-prescription scheme, a 31-year-old medical secretary was handed nine years in jail after pleading guilty. Her boyfriend received the same sentence at trial”. “Judges are taking a stiff stance,” says Det.-Const. Justin Ford, who led the investigation for the city’s drug squad. “Fentanyl cases are getting the kind of sentences you would normally get for trafficking in heroin—if not more.”