Opioids/Illicit Narcotics

Classification: Unclassified

Branch/Agency: CSCCB

Proposed Response:

If pressed on what the Canada Border Services Agency is doing to stop these substances from entering Canada:

If pressed on recent Canada Border Services Agency seizures of fentanyl:

If pressed on RCMP-China collaboration on investigations related to fentanyl:


With more than 17,600 opioid-related deaths since January 2016, the opioid overdose crisis is a national public health and safety epidemic of significant concern to the Government of Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the opioid crisis. Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are responsible for a significant portion of opioid toxicity deaths. 

Supply Trends

Fentanyl seizures by Canadian law enforcement have been increasing since 2011. Since 2016, China has been a significant exporter of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues to Canada. [Redacted]

China has been responsive to international requests to schedule fentanyl and related substances. In May 2019, China scheduled fentanyl and its analogues as controlled substances. Since China implemented these controls,[Redacted]. Import of precursor chemicals has been increasing since 2018.


Ultimately, the emergence of new countries as source and transit points for fentanyl and various analogues could signal the beginning of a diversification of routings as traffickers attempt to evade law enforcement efforts [Redacted] cooperation with Chinese authorities is key to effectively disrupt the importation of, and trafficking in, these substances.

Federal Action

To further assist health, law enforcement and border officials in addressing the opioid overdose crisis, the Government of Canada has amended several Acts to, for example, restrict the importation of pill presses and other devices used to produce pills containing illegal opioids and to allow border officers greater authority to interdict controlled substances in international mail. 

The Public Safety Portfolio continues to monitor emerging trends in the illicit drug market and is engaging with its domestic and international partners to advance supply reduction efforts. To this end, the RCMP has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security that facilitates joint work on, inter alia, illicit drug trafficking. [Redacted]

Other federal actions include the creation of the Organized Crime Joint Operations Centre (OC JOC) between RCMP, CBSA and Canada Post to coordinate operational responses to address the illicit drug problem; the National Chemical Precursor Diversion Program to prevent the flow of precursors from legitimate industry to drug traffickers; and, the RCMP’s Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response team to assist other police services to combat drug threats.


Prepared by: Meagan Strasser, Policy Advisor, [Redacted]

Approved by: Name, title and phone number (ADM or equivalent only)

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