According to various news outlets, the death toll related to fentanyl overdose has risen dramatically over the past two years. In Philadelphia alone, a 632% increase in deaths were attributed to the potent opioid, as well as some of the more potent analogs, as recorded by both the CDC and law enforcement.
There is an unfortunate connection between fentanyl-related overdoses and the darknet markets, a connection that local law enforcement and the DEA are becoming alarmingly aware of. In many cases, other opiate or opioid products like heroin are being laced with fentanyl, ocfentanil, or even carfentanyl.
In an effort to aid in harm reduction, some users of darknet marketplaces have taken an interest in helping keep opioid users safe. Another Reddit user, who represent Alphabay market was offering to pay for a vendor account if someone was able to use it for selling only harm-reduction products, such as Narcan.
Vendors who offered such products were given a 48-hour notice to remove their listings, or otherwise lose their ability to vend.
The notice posted on the DHL landing page:
Due to recent deaths and the threat to customers’ well-being, we’ve come to the decision that starting today (08/19/16) we will no longer allow the sale of fentanyl and its related analogues on our market. We’ve given all vendors that sell this product a 48 hour notice to remove the product from their listings or possibly lose their ability to vend. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.
A recent example of an influx of toxic opioids becoming more available was a package containing 1kg of carfentanyl that was intercepted by Canadian law enforcement. While a connection to the deepweb was not publicly announced, the likelihood of this package being related to several fentanyl and carfentanyl overdoses from “heroin” purchased on the deepweb existed.
Fentanyl itself is an extremely strong opioid with an approximate potency of 50 times that of medical grade heroin and 100 times that of morphine. It is safely used both recreationally and medicinally by many responsible users. However, the major concern – and overdoses – stem from the growing issue where deepweb vendors, as well as those in real life, are using much more potent fentanyl analogs to cut their fentanyl (and heroin).
In the case of carfentanyl overdoses, users would take the appropriate amount of fentanyl for their tolerance level, but not realizing that they were instead taking carfentanyl with 100 times more potency than medical grade fentanyl.
Marketplace users have varying opinions on whether or not this will help with the epidemic. Some believe that it will only lead to more heroin being sold with fentanyl, instead of direct fentanyl sales. DHL is a marketplace where only “trustworthy” vendors are permitted to sell, but whether or not any change will happen is yet to be seen.