An opioid 10,000 times more powerful than heroin has entered the Australian market, prompting the Australian Border Force to issue a warning on Monday about the deadly drug. Apparently, this synthetic drug called W-18 is one of the world’s deadliest and has already caused overdose cases in China, Canada, Scandinavia and the US.
Authorities say that W-18, discovered in 2014, produces a pain-killing effect and is highly similar to heroin. It is also 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, a narcotic that has caused 655 deaths in Canada between 2009 and 2014. By comparison, W-18 has caused 500 deaths due to overdose in two US states in just a year.
“There are a couple of derivatives out there that don’t even have a name yet … chemical analogs known as W, which are even more potent than fentanyl,” points out Australian Border Force Head Roman Quaedvlieg. “We are finding small incidents of fentanyl being seized at the border. It is a highly potent form of opiate which is coming into this country.”
W-18 is sold in pill and powder forms, which street dealers also call beans or shady 80s. Drug traffickers usually move W-18 through air delivery so the authorities cannot detect them.
They divide 500 kilograms of the drug into 50 packets that weigh 10 kilograms each. A network then recollects all of these and sells them to wholesalers and retailers.
The suppliers usually hire young Chinese students to collect the drug from lockers, vacant lots, flats or share houses. These students apparently get paid $100 or $200. Authorities say that the students may or may not be aware of what they are holding.
The authorities add that there is no test for detecting the presence of the opioid in one’s bloodstream as of now. The Australian Border Force is also currently collaborating with other nations to alleviate the drug trafficking problem.