Cross-border alert over lethal batch of ecstasy after man's death
A major alert has been sounded on both sides of the Border after a lethal batch of ecstasy claimed the life of a man in his early 40s after he took pills at a party.
Four other people were hospitalised after swallowing 'Speckled Rolex' tablets at a house in the west of Belfast on Friday night. Police in the North warned users to dispose of any ecstasy tablets in their possession.
Earlier this month, gardai issued a stark warning about new designer drugs cooked up in backstreet laboratories.
A lack of information on the chemical make-up of the everchanging drugs has heightened fears about the health risks they pose to users.
The synthetic substances, which are generally manufactured in the Netherlands and eastern Europe but are also being imported from China, have become more popular since the economic downturn.
A senior officer with the Garda National Drugs Unit (GNDU) warned earlier this month: "The manufacturers mix the chemicals to generate the same effect as traditional drugs but they consistently vary the mix, which leaves them a step ahead of the authorities in putting the drugs on the controlled list."
So far this year, 73 new psychoactive products have been identified in Europe.
Some of those products were initially on sale in the so-called 'head' shops, which have since been shut down. But the internet is now a huge source of dangerous products.
Earlier this month, the Irish Independent revealed that ecstasy producers were now sourcing more MDMA, which alters the contents of the tablets, and the street price has doubled from €5 to €10 per tablet.
A number of drug deaths in the past year have been attributed to the chemical mix used in these ecstasy-like tablets.
The incident on Friday night is still being investigated, but the PSNI believes the men may have taken the particular ecstasy substances at a house party at Thornhill Court in the Twinbrook area.