03/25/2015 12:54 EDT | Updated 05/25/2015 05:59 EDT

Fentanyl Being Shipped From Alberta To Other Provinces, Say Police

Illegally made fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, is sometimes sold to unsuspecting buyers as OxyContin or heroin.

EDMONTON - Police say organized crime groups have been sending a potentially deadly drug through British Columbia to Alberta and Saskatchewan using hidden compartments in vehicles.

Insp. Darcy Strang says a recent bust by police in the Edmonton area nabbed more than 2,000 fentanyl pills disguised to look like OxyContin.

Strang, who is a member of a unit made up of Edmonton police and RCMP known as ALERT, says fentanyl can be much more powerful than OxyContin and kill anyone taking it.

The powerful painkiller has been linked to more than 100 deaths in Alberta since 2014.

"We do not want any more deaths" Strang said Wednesday.

"We also want to make sure that the organized crime groups realize that (if) you sell this stuff, we are targeting you."

Strang declined to say which organized crime groups may be involved.

Police arrested five people in the Edmonton area earlier this month and in February on more than 30 drug-related charges.

Officers seized fentanyl pills, methamphetamine and other drugs, along with three SUVs with custom-made hidden compartments.

Strang said police believe the fentanyl is coming from China or possibly Mexico in powdered or liquid form and is pressed into pills.

"We believe that there are probably pill presses in Edmonton and area."

Police and Alberta health officials are trying to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl, noting more than 88,000 pills have been seized throughout the province in the last year.

Calgary police say they have made 13 fentanyl seizures since January and believe the drug was a contributing factor in 29 deaths in the region last year.

Police charged three people Monday on the Blood reserve in southern Alberta in two drug overdose deaths that have been linked to fentanyl.

The Blood Tribe has posted a warning about the drug on its community website and is starting an emergency phone hotline.

"Fentanyl in fake Oxy80s is what is causing the deaths in our community. All Oxy80s are fake," reads the message.

"Don’t be the next victim. Using fake Oxy80s is like playing Russian roulette."

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery The Most Used Drugs In 2014 (According To The Global Drug Survey) See Gallery