Although a ban cuts off production, the drugs themselves will still be found in the supply chain for some time.Production may go further underground or move to different locations (much fentanyl production for the US market has moved to Mexico), and supply routes may change.But government calculations suggest a Three A’I Cofan men were staring down at a pit of rocks, dead foliage and filthy water where two gold-panners were working.Beyond was a sluice and hoses running down to the rushing, green waters of the River Aguarico.Whether this is due to a single, localised supply network with limited impact, or whether this is a wider issue is a critical area for police intelligence, forensic scientists and toxicologists, as linking seizures to drug supply networks will provide a better understanding of the real scale of the problem.A recent letter from the Home Office to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs requesting information on the potential harm shows the government’s concern.When the water levels of the Darling river fall, local elders in Wilcannia, New South Wales, say, the crime rate spikes, particularly juvenile crime.
UK response There is a certain inevitability about fentanyl’s arrival in Britain as an additive to heroin, given trends in the US and elsewhere.
In 2015, of the 52,404 deaths from drug overdoses, 63 per cent were related to opioid overdoses; 9,580 of those involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
Fentanils have been found mixed with not just heroin but also cocaine in New York, and in fake medicines, which has led to several deaths.
Drugs-related deaths are increasing and the issue of fentanyl and its chemical relatives (or analogues known as fentanils) requires specific attention due to their potential for harm.
In the US, in the form of a fake prescription drug, it has killed thousands including the singer Prince.
In the UK fentanyl is appearing as an additive in street heroin.