Despite 'significant' seizures of heroin, fentanyl still more concerning to Saskatoon police
SASKATOON -- On May 29, Saskatoon police seized 403.74 grams of heroin in a from an apartment in the 900 block of Duchess Street.
“$130,000 street value. That’s significant for Saskatoon,” said Staff Sgt. Grant Obst.
“It was a little bit surprising to come out with 400 grams of heroin in that particular investigation, it wasn’t something that was expected.”
Police say seizing that amount of heroin in a single bust doesn’t mean that the drug is in frequent use around the city, citing just one other incident in January 2019 when more than 200 grams were seized.
“I think we’d be naive to think it’s not out there, but if the question is ‘is it making a huge comeback, is it taking over the streets?’ No we’re not seeing that,” said Obst.
“You hear about it occasionally on the street, but it’s not a frequent type of thing.”
The drug that is concerning is fentanyl, which Obst says is more potent, and has sometimes been fronted as heroin by drug traffickers.
“Fentanyl has a very similar effect, if I can use that term, for someone that’s going to use it, and fentanyl’s cheaper, so that’s more prevalent.”
Obst says the dangers surrounding buying street drugs come from the uncertainty of what’s in them; whether a cutting agent has been used and whether the drug is pure.
“We’re talking about drug traffickers, the only thing they care about is money. The only thing they care about is the bucks that go in their pocket. They couldn’t care less about your health or how the drug affects you. If you’re going to buy something on the street, that’s what you need to be aware of.”
While Saskatoon isn’t seeing a high number of overdoses, Regina is, and there’s a good chance they could happen in Saskatoon as well, he said.
“We certainly do have overdoses here, and I know that our ambulance services here in Saskatoon are quite vocal on that. If there was a contaminated shipment of anything that comes to our attention out there, we would be getting warnings out to people. We’re not seeing that kind of thing in Saskatoon right now.”
Kayla Demong, associate director of AIDS Saskatoon, says hearing about heroin on the streets is a good indicator of the drug’s prevalence.
“We’re hearing more from people who are accessing services that they’re doing more heroin, and that heroin is coming through a lot more,” she said.
They’re seeing a higher number of overdoses in Saskatoon, including one right behind their facility, she said.
“(It’s) really hard to swallow when we have a safe consumption site that’s ready to open right on the other side of the wall where the person went down,” she said.
In May, Medavie Health Services in Saskatoon reported a record number of overdose calls in one week , with paramedics receiving 88 emergency calls.
Demong says most of the overdoses would be opioid related, and not specifically heroin, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor in the increase.
“Drugs aren’t coming in the same way, we’re hearing that things are more expensive and less potent, which can lead to people not using their normal substances or using in a way that becomes more dangerous because they don’t know how much to use.”