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Crystal meth find raises fears of drug flooding city

DUBLIN is facing into an 'ice' epidemic, a leading city guardian has warned, after the biggest seizure of crystal meth to date.

Customs officers and gardai intercepted 2.5kg of the substance, also known as glass, with an estimated street value of €250,000 at Dublin Airport.

The haul was discovered when a 39-year-old man arriving from Lesotho, Africa, was stopped and his bags checked.

The drugs were concealed in the framework of two suitcases.

It is unusual that someone tried to bring in such large quantities of crystal meth, given that it is manufactured in labs through a mixture of chemicals and methanol.

"Crystal meth is only starting to arrive in this country but in the US it has devastated families and communities," said Fr Peter McVerry, who works with drug addicts in Dublin.

"It is highly addictive -- you can be addicted after just two or three uses. And it makes your behaviour extremely erratic. You can become extremely aggressive and violent and do almost anything to make money to get another fix," he told the Herald.

"In my view it's the most destructive drug on the market anywhere. I think we need to be dealing with this quickly."

Fr McVerry pointed to the example of crack cocaine.

"Almost overnight, crack cocaine became the drug of choice, first in Ballymun and then around the city."

Fr McVerry has been told crystal meth is "readily available" in Ballymun.

He has only dealt with one or two crystal meth addicts so far but he fears this could change rapidly. The drug costs less than heroin or cocaine -- the street value of a gram is about €25.

A spokeswoman for the Revenue said the airport seizure was a result of "routine profiling" by customs officers.

The suspect was handed over to gardai for questioning and was to appear in court.

It was the first crystal meth seizure at Dublin Airport and the most significant haul of the substance for three years.

"People have been warning about it here for a long time," said Grainne Kenny of Europe Against Drugs (Eurad).

"It's a very, very dangerous drug. All drugs are dangerous but that's particularly lethal.

Crystal meth comes in powder or rocks which can be snorted, smoked, ingested through the mouth or melted and injected. It can cause paranoia, kidney failure and internal bleeding, while a user's appearance can become haggard.