Recent heroin seizures by police have raised concerns that heroin is becoming the new drug of choice for addicts looking to replace OxyContin with another dangerous opiate.
London police have intercepted 705 grams of heroin en route to London this past month.
Another 16 grams were seized by Sarnia police in May.
But London police say it’ll likely take until the end of the year before they can determine what, if anything, is filling the void on the streets left by OxyContin.
“It’s too soon to say whether there’s been an increase in the opiates,” London police Const. Denis Rivest said.
But heroin is becoming more expensive in London and police noticed a bump in the price following the de-listing of OxyContin in March, he said.
Heroin sells for $400 a gram on London’s streets, up from $350 a gram in 2011, Rivest said.
Though street workers at London’s InterCommunity Health Centre haven’t seen a surge in the number of heroin users, Megan Cornwall, the centre’s communications director, said staff anticipate that former OxyContin users will switch to something new.
But she said there’s still plenty of OxyContin to be found on London’s streets.
Production of OxyContin, an addictive painkilling tablet previously prescribed by doctors, was stopped in Canada in March and replaced with a new formula: OxyNEO. Though OxyNEO still contains the painkilling ingredient oxycodone, the pill is hard to crush and turns into a thick gel when mixed with water or alcohol.
This makes it more difficult to abuse because many OxyContin addicts crush the drug to either snort or inject it. When taken all at once, oxycodone produces a euphoria similar to heroin, making it a likely alternative to those looking for an Oxy fix.
On Wednesday, Canada Border Services agents intercepted a package from India with 205.1 gm of heroin inside, addressed to a post office in London.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of Olatubosun Epemolu, 33, of London.
On May 4, a FedEx package from India containing 500 gm of heroin was turned over to London RCMP officers by U.S. Homeland Security officials in Memphis, Tenn.
Tracey Anderson, 40, from London is charged with possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking.
Sarnia police are connecting two heroin busts they made in May to the de-listing of OxyContin.
On May 2, Sarnia police seized $5,000 worth of heroin, and two days later seized $2,700 worth of the drug.
“The harder it is for (addicts) to get oxycodone, the more you’re going to see heroin,” Sarnia Det.-Const. Ivan Skinn said. “This is just the start of the wave,” he said. “Heroin’s here.”
With files from the Sarnia Observer