Online adverts selling super-strength opioids previously linked to 100 deaths


Thousands of online adverts have sold strong opioids linked to 100 deaths, it has been discovered.

Deadly drugs known as nitazenes have been advertised across social media platforms such as SoundCloud and X, formerly Twitter, the BBC England Investigations team has said.

It also reported that nitazenes have have been linked to nearly three UK deaths a week on average.

Nitazenes are a type of synthetic opioid drug that has been identified in the last year so in circulation across the UK.

They can cause considerable risks to wellbeing and are stronger than heroin and other opiate substances. These drugs were first developed in the 1950s, but were immediately flagged as too addictive.

Evidence collected from the BBC suggests that nitazene has been arriving to the UK from China in the post, following advertisements posted online by suppliers who have raked in millions of pounds from the scheme.

Some 3,000 listings were on SoundCloud and 700 were on X, the oldest of which was on the social media platform for 18 months.

When suppliers were contacted, a staggering 30 of 35 offered to post these drugs to the UK and even admitted that they were disguised in dog food and catering supplies to evade customs.

However, the majority of suppliers claimed to work for companies that otherwise appeared legitimate. Many also had professional websites and business addresses in Chinese cities.

Over the past two years, more than £4.2million in Bitcoin has been transferred into the cryptocurrency accounts of 19 of the suppliers contacted.

Most online advertisements have reportedly been removed with the use of human moderation and software since reported to the respective platforms.

It comes as over 100 deaths were recently found to be linked to synthetic opioids called nitazenes since last summer, according to the National Crime Agency.

This drug is known as a 2-benzyl benzimidazole opioid.

However, it has more frequently been referred to as a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 since March - in response to advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.