In Singapore, media outlets have learned that carfentanil from three arrested dark web drug traffickers shipped through customs and, in doing so, became the first confirmed report of carfentanil in Singapore. The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) warned individuals in a press release that a dark web drug syndicate from England shipped carfentanil to at least 400 buyers. A number of those buyers, according to several news sources, purchased the hyper potent opioid from within Singapore.
Many countries, counties, and cities have already experienced the carfentanil hysteria. To people living in Singapore, the presence of carfentanil represents a new form of terror matching the level of destruction caused by true chemical weapons. Until recently, no authoritative source in Singapore reported the presence of carfentanil. The NCA confirmed that it had, in fact, entered Singapore. Yet, media outlets may have overlooked something connected to a piece of information provided by the NCA: the drug syndicate shipped carfentanil to unknown buyers in Singapore between late 2016 and early 2017.
As far as the media in Singapore knows, nobody in Singapore has been treated for a carfentanil overdose. No media outlets in Singapore, until recently, had even reported on the drug at all—at least in respect to the presence of the drug within Singapore. And yet, even now, the drug has not caused any noticeable change in Singapore’s drug climate. If not for the NCA, nobody in Singapore who had not ordered carfentanil would know carfentanil had “reached the shores of Singapore.”
In some countries and cities, carfentanil makes the news on a daily basis. Often the media started reporting on carfentanil following stories such as “First Carfentanil Reports Surface in Austria” or “Researchers Record Norway’s First Carfentanil Case.” Specific districts of the United States judicial system even reported when their district saw carfentanil for the first time. See: USAO Sees San Diego’s First Carfentanil Trafficking Case. Canada was one of the first places where customs seized bulk carfentanil packages from laboratories in China that readily sold carfentanil to anyone with 20 dollars. We wrote one article titled “Police Intercept Package in Mail Containing 1kg of Carfentanil” that covered the seizure that sparked much of the carfentanil hysteria.
However, the majority of those cases had no direct or proven connection to dark web drug dealers. Given that Canada used to be one of the easiest methods of sneaking Chinese carfentanil across the border, much of the drug would likely have ended up in the hands of United States dark web vendors. And, of course, ultimately the streets where the real damage occurs. Although carfentanil is quite usable for those interested in carfentanil, the overdoses occur when a dealer sells “oxycodone pills” laced with carfentanil.
This time, thanks to the NCA, we know who shipped the carfentanil to Singapore: the three suspected drug dealers behind the Alphabay account “UKBargins.” Unlike many dark web vendors, UKBargins made sure the customers knew what they had purchased. The suspects—Lee Childs, 45, Jake Levene, 22, and Mandy Christopher Lowther, 21, allegedly described the analogues listed on the Alphabay account. The high demand meant that UKBargins frequently had a need for alternative drugs while customers waited for their primary product.
The trio allegedly responsible for owning and operating UKBargins never attempted to trick their customers into buying drugs they had no interest in buying. So, if UKBargins sold carfentanil to drug buyers in Singapore, perhaps the buyers purchased the drug for personal use or perhaps they extended the honesty to their potential customers. And by allowing their customers to make informed choices about drug use, the number of overdoses caused by lies and misrepresented drugs would decrease.
Other dark web vendors have likely sold carfentanil to customers in Singapore too. Untapped customer bases do not remain untapped for long. However, whatever has been happening (or not happening) in Singapore has not been reflected by other locations with “carfentanil problems.”