A dangerous drug considered 100 times more toxic than heroin has been discovered in Vancouver, triggering a public warning from police. Police said they discovered W-18 while investigating a break-and-enter in the city’s West End neighbourhood in early April.

Officers searched two men and seized some drugs, including a pill that testing later confirmed to contain the deadly designer drug.

Sgt. Randy Fincham said the discovery is particularly alarming considering B.C. has already seen a startling increase in overdose deaths this year.

“Many of those deaths have been the result of people knowingly, or unknowingly, taking synthetic painkillers such as fentanyl. With the recent appearance of W-18 in the Lower Mainland, the lives of more habitual or recreational drug users are at even greater risk,” Fincham said in a statement.

There were 308 illicit drug overdose deaths in the province from January to May, an increase of 75 per cent over the same period in 2015.

The first appearance of W-18 in Metro Vancouver was confirmed in Delta earlier this month. It was detected in drugs that were seized during a massive fentanyl bust in March.

Anyone who uses illegal drugs is urged to never use alone, and always start with a small amount, and not mix with other substances. Police also recommend people only use where help is easily available, and not be afraid to call 911 for help.

For more information about the dangers of opioids including W-18 and fentanyl, visit the Vancouver Police Department’s Know Your Source website.