Classification: Unclassified

Branch/Agency: RCMP

Proposed Response:


Over the past few years, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and law enforcement agencies across the country have reported increased seizures of illicit fentanyl and increased occurrences of overdoses and deaths due to abuse of illicit opioids. Presently, the United States (U.S.) has the most fatalities in the world linked to opioid overdoses, followed by Canada. On February 13, 2017, the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the U.S. released a joint statement outlining their respective commitment to finding common solutions to protect Canadian and U.S. citizens from opioid trafficking.

Worldwide, criminal networks involved in the illicit opioids market are increasingly complex and transnational in nature. Criminal networks in Canada and abroad are utilizing the surface web and dark web to anonymously access a range of illegal goods and services in small quantities. Products purchased online are often shipped by post via numerous packaging techniques in an effort to disguise or circumvent detection. 

The RCMP has implemented a national operational strategy to guide both intelligence and investigative efforts targeting synthetic opioid importers, distributors, online (surface and dark web) vendors, manufacturers and traffickers. Also, the Organized Crime Joint Operations Centre (OC JOC), in partnership with Canada Border Service Agency and Canada Post Corporation, leverages each agency’s investigative tools to supply intelligence on both domestic and international fentanyl shipments. In particular, the OC JOC focusses on investigations where synthetic opioids are being trafficked through the mail stream.

China remains the primary source country for fentanyl in Canada. Fentanyl originating from China is procured primarily from the dark and surface Internet, and is usually in powder form. New analogues can be created by making minimal changes to existing ones, making it hard for Chinese government regulation efforts to keep ahead of illicit drug producers. In an effort to thwart such

work-arounds, in April 2019, China’s National Narcotics Control Commission announced improvements to its process for scheduling fentanyl and related analogues. This will help reduce the supply and enhance enforcement efforts related to the illegal import of these substances into Canada. While China currently remains the primary supplier for illicit fentanyl, analogues, and precursor chemicals to Canada, analysis suggests that Canada could see part of its fentanyl supply sourced from other counties.  


Prepared by: Sean McGillis, Executive Director, Federal Policing Strategic Direction, 613-843-5914

Approved by: Michael Duheme, Deputy Commissioner Federal Policing, 613-843-4627

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