Gardai fear a 'Breaking Bad' crystal meth flood

Conor Feehan

Gardai are investigating a rash of DIY crystal meth labs as pharmacists are put on alert to report large sales of Sudafed, the cold remedy that can be used to make the lethal drug.

AS part of an operation by the Garda National Drugs Unit, about nine kilos of a synthetic drug -- worth €800,000 -- was seized in Waterford yesterday.

A 32-year-old man was arrested and in a follow-up operation a further quantity of the drug was seized.

Gardai have warned that tablets such as Sudafed, normally taken for colds, are being used as ingredients in homemade crystal meth.

Pharmacies in Dublin, Limerick and Kerry have already reported significant purchases of the cold remedy.

Gardai believe some of the manufacturers got the idea from watching the hit US TV series Breaking Bad, in which a chemistry teacher turns to producing crystal meth after being diagnosed with cancer.

Officers here said that users of crystal meth usually die within 18 months and suffer horrendous side-effects.

The drug makes users tear their skin by constant scratching and their teeth rot.

Last month a Polish man was arrested for questioning after gardai found a makeshift laboratory during a raid in Tralee.


Detectives also recovered an €8,000 haul of crystal meth and a quantity of Sudafed tablets.

The man was later released without charge, but a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Unusual purchase patterns of the cold remedy have also been noted at pharmacies on the southside of Dublin and in Limerick city.

Buyers were either purchasing large quantities in one go or groups were making daily visits to the chemist to buy in smaller quantities. Most of those involved are eastern Europeans.

Sudafed contains pseudo-ephedrine, which can be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, or crystal meth.

Chemists have been told they can refuse the medicine to a customer and to notify gardai if they are suspicious.

The Herald has warned for more than a year that a number of gangs in Dublin have been dealing and using crystal meth.

Last October, two gardai were assaulted in Ballyfermot by members of a crystal meth gang.


A key member of the gang is the chief suspect in stabbing electrician Kevin Kenny (32) to death outside a Ballyfermot pub in August, 2011.

The man, in his early 20s, was linked to Tallaght drug dealer Stephen O' Halloran (20), who was shot dead in January.