Fentanyl - what is the drug linked to Northampton police raid?

The scene at Tresham Green this morning.
The scene at Tresham Green this morning.

This morning's multi-agency drug-related operation in Northampton was linked to the supply of opioid drug fentanyl.

The pain-relieving drug is 50 times more potent than morphine and has medical applications when used in anaesthesia or to help patients experiencing discomfort linked to cancer or recovery from major surgery.

The National Crime Agency, who led the Ryehill operation on Tresham Green aided by officers from both Northamptonshire and Derbyshire police forces, released figures relating to fentanyl in August as it continues to investigate the supply and distribution of synthetic opioids across the UK.

The figures showed that at least 60 drug deaths in the UK in 2017 have been linked to fentanyl, which is being mixed with street heroin to make it more potent.

When releasing the numbers the NCA repeated its warning to drug users, their friends and families, to be vigilant and to read Public Health England's guidance to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Due to the very small quantities in which fentanyl can be consumed without lethal consequences, blending these with class A drugs is difficult and dangerous.

The result is often inconsistent so the mixture or dose contains ‘hotspots’ - random concentrations of the fentanyl analogue.

If a user consumes a blended substance containing a ‘hotspot’, they will experience sudden and severe opioid poisoning, often with fatal consequences.

Since December 2016, post mortem toxicology results indicate that 60 drug related deaths in the UK were known to be linked to fentanyl or one of its analogues.

Ian Cruxton, Deputy Director at the National Crime Agency said: “The threat of synthetic opioids is not new. However, since December 2016, we have seen a number of drug related deaths linked to fentanyl and carfentanyl.

“The NCA has been working with partners, both in the UK and overseas, to take action against those drug dealers who are playing Russian roulette with the lives of their customers by mixing synthetic opioids with heroin and other class A drugs.