Authorities on fentanyl alert


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Concerns mount over drug’s presence in the country

KUALA LUMPUR: Law enforcement authorities are on the lookout for the possible abuse of fentanyl in the country following the seizure of RM45mil of the drug at the KLIA Cargo Complex in Sepang, Selangor, on Dec 9 last year.

Also known as the zombie drug due to its debilitating effect on users, fentanyl is 100 times more dangerous than morphine and 20 to 40 times stronger than heroin, Royal Malaysian Customs Department deputy director-general (enforcement and compliance) Datuk Sazali Mohamad said after the seizure.

The party drug has wreaked havoc in countries such as the United States, where it’s the major synthetic drug causing 1,500 opioid overdose deaths a week.

While the Malaysian police have not detected any fentanyl use among drug users here, Bukit Aman Narcotic Crime Investigation Department (NCID) director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Kamarudin Md Din said they are on alert for the presence of fentanyl as well as the other drugs currently in circulation.

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“The police are always monitoring the situation and conducting continuous operations to curb drug use and trafficking irrespective of drug type.

“We are staying vigilant despite the drug threat growing more complex from time to time,” he had said.

Criminologist Kamal Affandi Hashim warned that a fentanyl crisis may already be brewing here because of the availability of party drugs including opioids and synthetic drugs.

“Methamphetamine pills are commonly laced with fentanyl.

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“Recreational drug users, who are mostly students and youths, can easily purchase such drugs online – from the dark web and social media. And we know that fentanyl is being used to make the drugs more addictive and provide a greater high,” he said.

There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl, which is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, especially for cancer patients; and illegally-made fentanyl, which is used to manufacture cheap and highly addictive drugs.

In the United States, it has been reported that the illegally-made fentanyl is largely supplied by networks in China and Mexico.

Fentanyl is also known to be rendered into cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine for extreme potency, Kamal Affandi added.

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“It is also extremely dangerous because many people, including recreational drug users, are not aware that fentanyl is used to make the drugs they consume.”

The threat is exacerbated by the growing use of online platforms, including social media, for illicit dealings, said cybersecurity expert Fong Choong Fook.

“It is still quite rampant on social media sites like Facebook.

“You can still find various kinds of drugs there,” he said, urging for tougher action on online platforms selling drugs.

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