LONDON — British police said Friday they are investigating the deaths of 88 people in the U.K. who bought products from Canada-based websites allegedly offering lethal substances to people at risk of self harm.
The probe is part of international inquiries sparked by the arrest in Canada earlier this year of Kenneth Law, who has been charged with two counts of counseling and aiding suicide.
Canadian police say Law, from the Toronto area, used a series of websites to market and sell sodium nitrite, a substance commonly used to cure meats that can be deadly if ingested.
Police said Law is suspected of sending at least 1,200 packages to more than 40 countries. Authorities in the United States, Italy, Australia and New Zealand also have launched investigations.
Britain’s National Crime Agency said it has identified 232 people in the U.K. who bought products from the websites in the two years until April, 88 of whom had died.
The agency said it was investigating whether any crimes had been committed in the U.K., but that “at this early stage there are no confirmed links between the items purchased from the websites and cause of death in any of these cases.”
“Our deepest sympathies are with the loved ones of those who have died. They are being supported by specially trained officers from police forces,” said National Crime Agency Deputy Director Craig Turner.
Peel Regional Police, the Ontario police force that arrested Law in May, declined to answer questions Friday about how many people it had linked to its investigation.
"In order to protect the integrity of this complex, multi-jurisdictional investigation, we are not able to release specific details at this time," spokesperson Const. Sarah Patten wrote in a statement.
"As the investigation progresses, we will provide more details to the public when investigators have deemed it appropriate."
Peel police have said 11 Ontario police forces are taking part in a joint investigation.
Law appeared at a bail hearing on Friday afternoon and his case was adjourned to Sept. 8.
- with files from The Canadian Press.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story includes discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, support is available 24/7 by calling Talk Suicide Canada (1-833-456-4566) or, for residents of Quebec, 1 866 APPELLE (1-866-277-3553). The U.S. suicide and crisis lifeline is available by calling or texting 988. There is also an online chat at 988lifeline.org. In the U.K., the Samaritans can be reached at 116 123 or www.samaritans.org.
The Associated Press