The Ministry of Homeland Security and Technology has warned the public about the surge in production and distribution of fentanyl-laced drugs, commonly known as ‘China White’, in the international market. China White, a highly potent synthetic opioid originating in southeast Asia, is an illicit analogue of the analgesic fentanyl, sharing the physiological effects of heroin.

“These drugs, produced using harmful chemicals, pose a significant risk to users, potentially threatening their lives,” warned the ministry.

Fentanyl can cause confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, changes in pupil size, cold clammy skin, coma, and respiratory failure leading to death.

“The Ministry of Homeland Security and Technology, the National Drug Agency, and all relevant agencies are working together to implement necessary measures,” the announcement read.

The authorities did not say whether these drugs had been found in the Maldives.

The Homeland Ministry’s warning follows three unexplained deaths in Malé within a week. The authorities have so far not confirmed if these deaths were caused by substance overdoses.