Several police forces around the world are investigating deaths believed to be linked to a Canadian accused of selling a deadly substance online to people at risk of self-harm.
Investigators say Kenneth Law is accused of sending at least 1,200 packages to people in more than 40 countries, including Canada, the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.
Law faces 14 charges in Canada alone, and investigations are ongoing across the country and around the world.
Here’s what we know so far.
Law is a 57-year-old former chef who lives in Mississauga, Ontario, adjacent to Toronto.
The story begins in October 2022, when a report from a British coroner, investigating the suicide death of a woman in Surrey in April, mentioned a post office box in Mississauga and a website linked to a Canadian.
Last March, Peel Regional Police, which polices the Mississauga and Brampton, Ont., regions, announced an investigation into the sudden death of a resident suspected of consuming a chemical substance.
The following month, the Times of London published an investigation of Law. He was arrested and charged by Peel Regional Police in May.
What is he accused of?
At the time, Law was charged with two counts of counseling or a*sisting in suicide. Law is accused of selling chemicals online to people potentially at risk of self-harm.
Police say the first of two people identified in Peel Region died in late March after consuming a substance allegedly purchased from an online business owned by Law. Investigators said they later learned of the second death in Peel.
The OPP then issued a public alert to report any packages received from five companies they believe are linked to Law: Academic, AmbuCA, ICemac, Escape Mode and Imtime Cuisine.
Imtime Cuisine has been identified as the website linked to the suicide death of the woman in Surrey, UK in April 2022.
The chemical has since been identified as sodium nitrite.
Sodium nitrite is a white crystalline substance used as a food additive and commonly found in processed meats.
Police say intentionally consuming excessive amounts of sodium nitrite can reduce oxygen levels, impair breathing and lead to death.
Insp. of York Regional Police Simon James told reporters on Tuesday that he believed Law was operating the websites towards the end of 2020.
He would not give further details on the identification of the victims involved due to the active investigation, but said the victims in Ontario were both male and female and ranged in age from 16 to 36. .
Investigators warned individuals to be alert for any packaging or labels identifying sodium nitrite, including hoods and/or masks that could be used to self-harm.
James encouraged anyone who has purchased from law-related businesses, or knows someone who has, to contact the police.
Who is investigating Kenneth Law?
In Ontario, 11 police forces have formed a major joint operation to investigate Law.
On Tuesday, police laid 12 new charges against Law for aiding and abetting suicide in deaths across the province.
The new charges came from the following regions of Ontario: four in Toronto, one more in Peel Region, three in York Region, one in Durham Region, one in London, one in Thunder Bay and one in Waterloo Region.
Meanwhile, British police are investigating the deaths of 88 people in the UK, allegedly linked to Law.
Britain’s National Crime Agency said it identified 232 people in the UK who bought products from these websites in the two years to April, 88 of whom died.
The agency said Aug. 25 that it was investigating whether any crimes had been committed, but that “at this early stage, there is no confirmed link between the items purchased on the websites and the cause of the death in any of these cases”.
The New Zealand Coroners Court also said it had received reports of deaths suspected of being linked to Law. The Coroners Court said it would follow its normal procedure for investigating New Zealand deaths and would not provide any further information at this time.
The American, Italian and Australian authorities have also opened investigations.
This story includes a 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 Quebec residents, 1 866 CALL (1-866-277-3553). . America’s Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available by calling or texting 988. There is also an online chat at 988lifeline.org. In the UK, the Samaritans can be reached on 116 123 or http://www.samaritans.org.
— with files from PKBNEWS and The Canadian Press
© 2023 PKBNEWS, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.