The painkiller that killed my son

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Media caption Watch: “My kid passed away from it” – Robert Fraser’s mum speaks with the BBC

Little more than a year ago Michelle Fraser understood absolutely nothing about fentanyl.

Now she understands a lot: that the drug is an artificial opioid associated to heroin however more effective; that it is a prescription substance abuse for cancer clients and others suffering extreme discomfort; which it is significantly being utilized as a leisure drug.

She likewise understands that fentanyl is a killer.

It took the life of her 18-year-old boy, Robert.

“I got a telephone call from my ex-husband to state he had actually discovered Robert dead in bed and I keep in mind believing, ‘He hasn’t stated that, he cannot have stated that – it’s not real,'” Michelle, from Deal in Kent, states.

Image caption Robert’s mum Michelle Fraser stated drug dealerships were “playing Russian Roulette with our lives”

Robert had actually passed away of a fentanyl overdose. When he had actually gone with buddies to purchase marijuana, he had actually been offered the drug by a dealership.

Michelle is persuaded that Robert had no concept that he was taking fentanyl – or how harmful it might be.

“Fentanyl is the drug and a killer dealerships are playing Russian Roulette with our lives … my kid passed away from it,” she states.


At the Eurofins Forensic Services lab in south-west London, they understand everything about the risks of fentanyl.

And of carfetanil – an associated drug established as a big animal tranquiliser.

Just a couple of grains can be adequate to eliminate. And it can be soaked up through the skin, or merely inhaled.

The lab’s forensic researchers need to operate in couple with the remedy to fentanyl close at hand.

They test for the drug in specialised extractor cabinets which eliminate particles from the air and they use non reusable laboratory coats, double gloves and face masks.

The lab has, for years, evaluated drugs for the authorities and the CPS to supply proof in court.

Image copyright DEA
Image caption Lethal dosages of heroin, carfentanil and fentanyl

Forensic researcher Peter Cain states: “Fentanyls are a various classification of drug completely.

“And the possible damage they might trigger is simply way above anything we have actually had in the past.

“It’s the strength of them that is exactly what’s frightening.”

Dark web

So where is this hazardous, lethal drug originating from?

Most of the supply in the UK is produced in China and after that privately delivered to the UK where users purchase it through the dark web.

The BBC went undercover in China to obtain a minimum of part of the response.

After weeks of settlements through messaging apps, we were welcomed to a conference in a common caf in a city in northern China.

Here we satisfied a young supervisor from a lab makings research study chemicals. He’s with his translator.

The discussion was stilted and decreased by the language barrier however the message was extremely clear. They have actually brought samples of drugs made by the household company.

No fentanyl, obviously, as it is too harmful for this public location.

The laws in China indicate some laboratories can make sure kinds of fentanyl lawfully. The problem is who they are prepared to offer it to.

Within minutes we were provided an offer.

Quickly we found out that fentanyl was easily readily available, no concerns asked, with a deal to deliver it out to the UK: A class A drug easily offered for the worldwide criminal market.

It would be evacuated and sent out discretely by mail or carrier.

The BBC left without making an order. No drugs were purchased.

Small bundles

The factor drug dealerships are brought in to fentanyl over, state, heroin, is that it is so strong – a little goes a long method.

It is a low-cost option which can be sent out in little bundles.

From China, and other locations where fentanyl is produced, the dealerships must, ultimately, get the drug into the hands of those who opt to utilize it.

Often, the last link in the chain is the so-called dark web.

Image caption Most of the fentanyl supply in the UK is produced in China then delivered to the UK where users purchase it through the dark web

Author Jamie Bartlett composes and looks into about this uncontrolled part of the web.

He has actually visited to a site that appears like other internet marketing website.

Except in this case, we are provided fentanyl, morphine and heroin.

Jamie states: “It turns whatever into a really expert sort of deal and it simply seems like: ‘I will go onto my computer system, get a couple of drugs provided to my home and do not even believe too much of it.’

“I believe individuals who invest a great deal of time on these markets can lose touch with exactly what they’re in fact doing.

“They do not understand rather how major or strong a few of these drugs are and the intensity of the criminal activities they’re devoting, since it seems like you are on a regular site doing a typical little organisation.”

Fentanyl has actually likewise been offered on the street.

‘I was dead’

Across the north east of England, in the early part of 2017, heroin providers began covertly blending fentanyl with their normal products in order to increase earnings.

There was a rise in overdoses in the area.

In Teeside a minimum of 6 individuals passed away. Kenny practically ended up being the seventh.

Image caption Kenny endured a fentanyl overdose since the remedy was at hand.

He has a long history of heroin abuse however his body was just overwhelmed when he injected exactly what the dealership had actually offered him.

“I was utilizing exactly what I believed was heroin and ends up it wasn’t,” he states.

“It was fentanyl or carfentanil.

“I overdosed – that is as much as I can keep in mind. Injected it and overdosed. I was dead.

“I ‘d gotten about midway down and I was simply seeing red which is the last I keep in mind.

“It resembled blood was covering my eyes.”

Kenny endured just since he overdosed at a drop-in centre run by the Moses Project, which had actually taken the safety measure of having the remedy to fentanyl.

The spike of deaths throughout the north east of England put fentanyl securely on the radar of the National Crime Agency.

The drug has actually eliminated 113 individuals in the UK given that 2016.

Laurence Gibbons, the NCA’s head of drugs hazard, states the company has actually prioritised the danger from the drug and its analogues.

“We have a variety of officers working entirely on that hazard and they will continue keeping an eye on and we will keep an excellent watch on exactly what is emerging,” he states.

Twenty-five-year-old Kyle Enos, from Newport, south Wales, was imprisoned for 8 years on Monday for offering and exporting fentanyl utilizing the dark web.

This is thought to be just the 2nd case of its kind in the UK.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kyle Enos was imprisoned for 8 years on Monday for offering and exporting fentanyl

Meanwhile, Robert’s mum is entrusted to keepsakes, pictures and videos that reveal a smiling boy with his entire life ahead of him.

Every day Michelle strolls to the seafront in her home town, Deal.

There’s a bench there with a plaque in Robert’s memory.

As she looks and sits out over the English Channel, Michelle requires time to assess the threats of fentanyl, and how finest to safeguard other youths, including her own more youthful boy.

“People are being in their bed rooms and clicking a button and getting it,” she states.

“The world I matured in wasn’t like that and do not desire that future for my little lad, my enduring lad.”

Where to obtain assist

NHS Choices uses details on assistance for addicts and for their households

Talk to Frank offers details on the impact of drugs

Narcotics Anonymous provides aid for recuperating supporters and addicts total abstaining

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