A man and woman from the Toronto area were arrested in Halifax on Tuesday and charged with smuggling three kinds of opioid drugs into the country.
Geevan Nagendran, 37, and Mithusha Poobalasingam, 22, were arraigned in Halifax provincial court Wednesday on charges of importing heroin, carfentanil and methylfentanyl and possessing all three drugs for the purpose of trafficking.
The pair also face an Aeronautics Act charge of making false representation for the purpose of obtaining a Canadian aviation document or privilege.
According to court documents, members of the RCMP’s federal serious and organized crime unit arrested Nagendran and Poobalasingam at a residence on Bland Street in south-end Halifax.
Police allege the offences were committed over the past week.
Officers seized about five kilograms of heroin and unknown quantities of carfentanil and methylfentanyl, sources told Local Xpress.
Legal aid lawyers Kishan Persaud and Kai Glasgow represented the pair in court Wednesday.
Crown attorney Angela Nimmo asked for time to prepare for a bail hearing.
Judge Michael Sherar remanded Nagendran and Poobalasingam to the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth until Friday, when they will return to court.
The seizure came less than a week after the province’s chief medical officer issued a warning that street drugs recently seized by police in Nova Scotia had probably been laced with carfentanil, one of the most potent opioids on the planet.
Carfentanil is used to sedate elephants and other large animals. Dr. Robert Strang said the opioid can cause breathing to slow so rapidly that it can kill within minutes.
Carfentanil is about 100 times stronger than fentanyl, another powerful opioid that has been linked to hundreds of overdose deaths in Canada.
Police across the country have issued warnings over the past couple of years about an increase in illicit use of fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. A lethal dose can be as little as two milligrams, which is equal to two grains of salt.
Fentanyl is legally prescribed by doctors for managing severe or long-term pain but is often mixed in with illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine or labelled as oxycodone or hydromorphone when sold on the streets.
Halifax Regional Police and RCMP issued an advisory in March warning the public that fentanyl was being trafficked in metro. Police said fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl powder had been seized in six residential searches since Jan. 1.
There are various types of methylfentanyl, a more powerful version of fentanyl. One type, 3-methylfentanyl, is 400 to 6,000 times stronger than morphine.