03/22/2012 01:41 EDT | Updated 05/22/2012 05:12 EDT

Calgary police worry dealers holding on to tainted ecstasy

CALGARY - Police in Alberta's largest city are concerned there may still be stockpiles of the tainted street drug ecstasy that have already led to the deaths of nine people.

Deaths attributed to the deadly powder, which includes the chemical PMMA (paramethoxymethamphetamine), began in Calgary last July and have claimed victims ranging from a 16-year-old youth to a 51-year-old man, who died last month, said Staff Sgt. Mike Bossley from the city's drug unit.

Officers made seven arrests in February and seized a quantity of ecstasy. Bossley said results from Health Canada have confirmed the drug was laced with PMMA.

He is concerned that despite a campaign by police to alert the public about the dangers, there may be more tainted ecstasy that could be sprung on unsuspecting users.

"This is a cash business and so if you're a drug dealer who's bought a significant quantity of this drug, you may still be sitting on it at your residence waiting for things to cool down before you reintroduce it into the market again," said Bossley. "The thing with drug trafficking is it's all about profit. I don't think there's a lot of concern for the user.

"It's important that all of the people within Calgary and Alberta remain vigilant and stay away from this type of drug."

Bossley expects to be in contact with the RCMP which is investigating the death of a man in Morinville, Alta.

Toxicology results show he had PMMA in his system. The chemical, known as Dr. Death on the street, is more toxic than regular ecstasy but looks the same.

It has now been linked to the deaths of 10 people in Alberta, five in British Columbia and one in Saskatchewan.

Bossley said it is also unclear where the PMMA-laced version came from or whether it is from one distributor.

"We can't say if it is just one batch. If you have one major batch and it subsequently gets distributed, it could go to up to 100 or 1,000 people depending on the volume of that batch."