Europe's most lucrative heroin markets seem ripe for a fentanyl takeover. But why the no-show?

18 Feb 2019

In 2017, a spike in fentanyl-related deaths in the north of England and a series of police raids on suppliers led many to believe the super potent opioid had finally found its way into Britain's narcotic food chain. It was only a matter of time, the thought went, before the devastation wreaked in parts of America and Canada – by heroin suppliers stretching out supplies with cheaper, more potent fentanyl – would start to be mirrored in the UK and Europe.

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On the 18th of January, three dealers busted in April of 2017 were jailed for a total of 43 years for selling 2,800 packages of fentanyl and 635g of pure carfentanil over the dark net from their storage unit in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Yet, in the nearly two years between their arrest and jailing, the expected US-style fentanyl explosion has so far failed to ignite. The drug has a growing presence in Europe, but that's still nowhere near the levels seen in north America.

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